COP 26: How climate change has changed the way we work

Many believe this year’s Glasgow COP summit to be the world’s last best chance to get climate change under control. Despite nearly three decades of talks, commitments laid out at Paris 2015 did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing.  

At Forbo Flooring Systems, our mission statement is to create better environments with a view to improving quality of life. Creating a comfortable interior environment that promotes wellbeing as well as meeting safety and hygiene standards is a worthwhile pursuit. But for a responsible manufacturer, it’s not enough. 

COP26 aspires to some specific objectives. If, as a collective, we hold ourselves accountable to these same objectives, there is still some hope… 

OBJECTIVE:  SECURE GLOBAL NET ZERO BY MID CENTURY AND KEEP 1.5 DEGREES WITHIN REACH. 

To deliver on these ambitious targets, countries need to take concrete action; to accelerate the phaseout of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the transition to electric vehicles.  

Encouragingly, change is underway. Indeed: solar and wind are now cheaper than new coal and gas power plants in two thirds of countries of the world. And whilst we at Forbo are extremely proud of our transition over to 100% green electricity and current trials with biogas, we must remain open to new approaches to the manufacturing of all our products.   

An example is the manufacturing process for our Marmoleum FR2 flooring product, in which uptake of CO2 (from photosynthesis of the plant ingredients) outweighs COemissions from transport and production processing, making Marmoleum FR2 CO2-neutral from cradle-to-gate. By adopting a forward-looking and innovative approach, industry can contribute to a better environment by adapting products and processes accordingly. 

OBJECTIVE:  ADAPT TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES AND NATURAL HABITATS.  

COP26 must enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid further loss of homes, livelihoods and lives. 

As a climate-conscious manufacturer, the careful use of all resources goes without saying. Our linoleum floor coverings are made from natural, rapidly renewable raw materials and are biodegradable and CO2 neutral (cradle-to-gate) without offsetting. In the manufacture of our heterogeneous vinyl floor coverings, for example, we use the latest in phthalate-free plasticizers with a base layer containing up to 45% recycled material. 

But the objectives of our 5-year Sustainability 2025 programme reach further, ranging from improving indoor air quality by reducing product emissions, fine dust & allergy triggers, creating a workplace that is safe and healthy through the provision of sports and exercise activities, offering smoking cessation programmes and auditing suppliers for SA8000 on social accountability, right the way through to the creation of e-learning modules, designed to educate primary school children during lockdown on the effects of CO2

OBJECTIVE: WORK TOGETHER TO DELIVER.  

The overarching goal of the COP26 is for negotiations to culminate in agreements. Only then can ambitions become actions, by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals, faster. 

Co-producers and manufacturers of building materials must put their heads together to come up with hard-hitting solutions. Whether it be to pool research activities or explore collection and sorting schemes for cut-offs and end-of-life products, there is a shared responsibility to find circular solutions. 

Huge progress can be made as an industry, facilitated through alliances such as the ERFMI (European Resilient Flooring Manufacturers Institute), EuFCA (European Floor Covering Association), ECRA (European Carpet & Rug Association) and MMFA (Multi-layer Modular Flooring Association), with each of whom Forbo Flooring Systems has strong ties.  

In 2021, Forbo Flooring Systems also joined the World Green Building Council to actively participate in and influence the transformation of the building and construction sector across three strategic areas – climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity. 

For more information about Forbo Flooring Systems and its portfolio of floor and wall coverings for rail, marine, bus and coach applications please get it touch by email at: transport@forbo.com.

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