Popularizing the Progressive

Popularizing the progressive.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Popularizing the progressive.. Image: Aron Fjejj / Unsplash

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Popularizing the progressive

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful individuals can change the world.”

The quote belongs to President Bartlet in the TV series West Wing. It’s inspirational and probably true in some cases. But to be honest, most of the time, it’s the majority who changes the world.

Studies show that for a minority to become a majority, on average, it has to win over a little more than 20% of the people. It may not sound like much, but it is quite a lot of individuals.

So, for change to happen, progressive ideas need to be popularized.


With increased transparency.

An example:
20% of the global climate emissions are generated by the construction industry. But it is often overlooked in the climate debate.

Sure, some architects talk about it and try to put the spotlight on the issue. But not with much success.

But things might change.

Recently, Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) Sweden launched Byggutsläppslistan (Embodied Carbon Declared in English), a new online platform that, as far as I can see, presents the declared CO2 emissions from new construction at the project level for the first time in the world.

This is an important step because to decrease the emissions from construction effectively, we need to know their size.

And potential greenwashing among the actors in the sector will be harder to continue with.

The displayed declared emissions on the website are sorted by project, municipality, and developer. In total and per square meter.

The data published is sourced from the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, and is based on the climate declarations that developers are required by law to make for new construction, since the beginning of 2022. The law and declarations don’t include all parts of construction, so the emissions are most likely even bigger than the numbers published on the website. But it’s still an important first step to publish the data.

The construction and real estate sector accounted for 22% of Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. Of this 22% came from new construction, and the emissions are increasing. Globally, construction generates about 20% of the climate emissions.

Byggutsläppslistan aims to improve collective awareness of the construction industry’s impact, accelerating the transition toward climate neutrality.

The declared construction emissions from 955 projects, 107 municipalities, and 366 developers in Sweden are currently published on the website. New projects are continuously added.

And the data is available to everyone.

Companies in different sectors, at least in Europe, need to get used to this level of transparency.

The new European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) require all large companies and all listed companies to share information on the risks arising from social and environmental issues and the impact of their activities on people and the environment.

Things will change for the better, and it will happen fast.

Hopefully fast enough.

Other articles by Johan Gustafsson:

The Planet is Suffering. Maybe a Laugh Will Help?

The Renaissance of Ugly

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