American architects urge Trump to take action on climate in open letter

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Photography courtesy of Flickr user Gage Skidmore

American architects urge Trump to take action on climate in open letter

More than 250 American architecture practices have signed an open letter to Donald Trump ahead of the president-elect's inauguration on Friday.

Firms including Snøhetta, Brooks + Scarpa, Deborah Berke Partners and Lorcan O'herlihy Architects are among 276 signatories to the letter, which urges Trump to take action on climate change.

Organised by the coalition Architects Advocate, which formed during the presidential election in 2016, the letter spells out three actions the president should take to "turn our climate challenge into an unrivalled economic opportunity".

The first is investment in renewable energy, the second is levelling subsidies that support fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and the third is continued participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.

These calls are significant given Trump, a frequent climate-change denier, was elected on a platform of dismantling the Paris Agreement. Drafted in 2015 and so far signed by nearly 200 countries, the Paris Agreement sets countries targets to reverse the worst effects of global warming.

The letter calls for Trump, who has qualified some of his policies since the election in November, to reconsider his stance. It notes that action on climate change is supported across party lines and by a majority of Americans, and that the architecture industry is particularly invested in the issue.

"Because buildings alone account for almost 40 per cent of total US energy use and 72 per cent percent of US electricity use, America's architects are on the front line addressing climate change in a meaningful way," it reads.

"By taking decisive action now we all can be remembered as historic and courageous actors who helped secure humanity's future. We can turn our climate challenge into an unrivalled economic opportunity that creates desirable and healthy jobs in rural and urban communities alike."

Other signatories to the letter include Handel Architects, Lake Flato and Studio Dwell. In total, 229 architecture firms have already signed, along with 24 landscape architecture films, 21 other design and consulting industry firms and two organisations.

Architects Advocate next intends to approach elected officials with the letter and hold climate-change forums with the general public.

The open letter is not the first reaction to Trump from the architecture community. Shortly after the US election result last year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) put out a statement pledging to work with US president-elect Donald Trump to improve the country's infrastructure.

The statement prompted a backlash from many US architects, leading the AIA to issue an apology and saying the memo "shouldn't have happened".

Donald Trump is set to take office following his inauguration on 20 January 2017.

Read the full text of the open letter below: