COP27: Why the Built Environment matters.
Over the next few weeks, negotiators from nearly 200 countries will come together and haggle over the issues looming over us all for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP), bringing together a variety of stakeholders including environmental charities, community groups, think tanks and businesses alike. UN climate summits are held every year, for governments to agree on actionable steps to stop the global temperature rise.
The meeting calls on countries to put their focus on demonstrating leadership and cooperation on the issue of climate change. As global leaders converge in Egypt for the UN’s annual climate summit, the region’s governments hope it will draw attention to the severe impacts of climate change on Africa, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. However, researchers, advocates and the United Nations alike share that we are still far off track on our goals set at COP26 that were intended to halt global warming to prevent the worst consequences.
What action is needed in order to get on track for a 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit?
The state of Climate Action 2022 report measures our progress on 40 indicators — none of which are on track to meet the 2030 targets. This means that if we continue to fail to reach them, we are headed towards reaching a global temperature rise of 2.5 degrees Celsius. According to The World Economic Forum the following points are what we need to reach the progress goals initially set out.
- Phase out coal 6 times faster (by shutting down the equivalent of 925 average-sized coal plants a year.
- Expand public transport systems 6 times faster.
- Lower CO2 from cement production 10 times faster.
- Reduce rate of deforestation 1.5 times faster.
- Shift to more sustainable, plant based diets 5 times faster.
- Improve energy efficiency of construction 5 times faster in commercial buildings (and 7 times faster in residential buildings.)
- Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels at 5 times the current rate.
Why cities, regions and the built environment play a huge role
As observed in the list, the built environment makes up two key points of improvement. Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of all materials extracted from the earth. The construction sector’s demand on natural resources just for building accelerates climate change, and energy inefficient buildings contribute even further to this.
“By 2030, efficient buildings will be an investment opportunity worth $24.7 trillion”
Despite this fact, only a small fraction the funds spent on new construction goes to that of efficient buildings. BuildingToCOP continues, stating that “Out of the 186 countries that have submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 136 countries mention buildings, 53 countries mention building energy efficiency, and 38 specifically call out building energy codes. Most countries do not include full building decarbonisation targets and certain areas such as building materials are under addressed.”
This represents a huge opportunity for the sector to step up and push solutions that can enable the reduction of energy and carbon expended in the industry, and one we ourselves take quite seriously too. Decarbonisation is only one of the many challenges the built environment faces, but it should be treated as a top priority.
To stay in the loop of how the built and construction sector is being positioned at this years COP27, BuildingtoCOP has put together a great list of links to the events taking place over the summit, available to tune into online.