Operational emissions from the built environment increased by 5% last year, compared to 2020 levels, but with more than 200 events and several new climate action initiatives launched at COP27, the sector has shown that it has the climate solutions ready to scale now. The BuildingToCOP Coalition rallied the sector, responsible for almost 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, around flagship events focused on the key themes of: Finance, Decarbonisation, and Adaptation & Resilience. See below for the key actions announced.
- Buildings Breakthrough: government-level action
On 17 November at the Buildings Pavilion at COP27, and following the Breakthrough Agenda launched at COP26 aiming to strengthen international collaboration on the decarbonisation of high-emitting sectors (Transport, Power, Hydrogen, Steel, Agriculture), France and the Kingdom of Morocco re-confirmed their leadership calling for a Buildings Breakthrough for ‘Near zero emissions and resilient buildings to be the new normal by 2030’, with the support of Armenia, Austria, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Türkiye, and the UK. They collectively invited all countries to join.
- WorldGBC Guide to Climate Resilience and Adaptation in the Built Environment
Launched ahead of COP27 in collaboration with the UN High Level Climate Champions and C40 Cities, the WorldGBC Guide to Climate Resilience and Adaptation in the Built Environment provides actionable principles for implementing climate resilience and adaptation strategies across the built environment value chain.
- Roof Over Our Heads
This campaign, launched at COP27, addresses the lack of access to safe and decent houses for the most vulnerable communities, with the goal of improving the lives of 2 billion climate vulnerable people living in informal settlements by 2050. Roof Over Our Heads is a partnership between The Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Global Resilience Partnership, and a number of supporting organisations. The campaign is in collaboration with the UN High Level Climate Champions.
- Cities Race to Resilience
Signatories to the Cities Race to Resilience have more than doubled since 2021, committing to clear, evidence-based climate actions for accelerating adaptation and resilience.
- Summary for Urban Policy Makers
Launched at COP27, The summary turns the IPCC’s AR6 report into actionable policy guides for city and urban policy makers to decarbonise and build the resilience of urban environments. Led by Resilience Rising and the IPCC’s Co-Authors, the SUP reports (launched at COP26) are a result of collaborative knowledge co-creation over one year and through a series of regional and global convenings held across the world. Consolidated summary here.
- 2030 Built Environment Breakthrough Outcome
The UN High Level Climate Champions built on the 2030 Breakthrough Outcome for the built environment, by launching a series of near-term way-point actions needed across all levers for systems change from supply to demand to policy implementation.
- 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction
The report is a flagship publication of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) and provides an annual snapshot on the progress of the buildings and construction sector globally. This year’s report found that emissions and energy demand have increased beyond the pre-pandemic peak. The sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050 despite a substantial increase in investment and in the number of countries including buildings as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The report found in Africa that:
- An estimated 70% of the building stock expected to exist in 2040 has yet to be built.
- Building and construction sector is worth $5.4 billion USD and is expected to grow at a rate of 6.4% by 2024.
- Traditional sustainable construction and building practices are a cornerstone of African cultural heritage; used more widely they can make for more affordable housing that is adaptable to climate conditions.
- The Race to Zero continues
The percentage of construction companies, by revenue, that have joined the Race to Zero has doubled since COP26. Contractors have committed to halving their emissions by 2030 at the very latest, across all scopes. The construction sector organisations now committed to Race to Zero totals over $245 billion (USD) in revenue.
- Business of Climate Recovery: Accelerating Accountability, Ambition & Action
This agenda, released by WBCSD, sets out interventions for accelerating the global decarbonisation of business, supporting business leaders, in close collaboration with governments, to sharpen accountability, raise ambition, and deliver action at speed and scale. Two priority action areas for this initiative are:
- Developing national and sub-national decarbonisation and resilience roadmaps to address energy performance and whole lifecycle emissions for new and old buildings.
- Placing whole life carbon at the centre of decarbonisation strategies and decisions.
- C40 Cities Clean Construction
Cities are driving transformational actions to cut emissions and pollution from the construction sector, shift the market and lead by example with municipal procurement. In the lead up to COP27, C40 Cities Clean Construction announced:
- The cities of London and Milan joined C40’s Clean Construction Accelerator – endorsed by BWI, the global construction workers union, committing specific actions to support the global built environment sector in halving embodied emissions by 2030 and generating green jobs.
- Cities leadership and C40’s Clean Construction programme were recognised as supporting mechanisms to the new Buy Clean Initiative unveiled by the Biden/Harris administration in the White House Factsheet.
- IKEA Retail (Ingka Group) joined C40’s Clean Construction Action Coalition, launched last year at COP26 in Glasgow, to halve embodied emissions from the global built environment by 2030.
- Paris Aligned Asset Owners
The Paris Aligned Asset Owners initiative (PAAO) coordinated by AIGCC, Ceres, IGCC and IIGCC, is an international group of 57 asset owners representing over $3.3 trillion assets under management (AUM) committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 or sooner, has published its first Progress Report. The report showcases innovation and best practice amongst asset owners for turning net zero commitments into action and the steps being taken to reach their net zero goals.
- Asset Managers in the Race to Zero
Less than two years since the initiative launched, the total number of asset managers committing to net zero through the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative has increased to 291, representing $66 trillion (AUM). Collectively signatories have now committed on average 39% of assets to net zero by 2050, with all NZAM signatories committing to ratchet up with a view to reaching 100%.
Marking an Opportunity for Africa:
- Africa Manifesto for Sustainable Cities and the Built Environment
The Africa Manifesto was launched ahead of COP27, articulating policies related to energy, water, materials, finance and infrastructure that African business leaders, city and government officials must support to deliver the ‘Africa We Want’: a net zero carbon, healthy, resilient, equitable, socially and economically inclusive built environment for everyone, everywhere. The Manifesto is a collaborative piece of work developed with 15 African Green Building Councils (GBCs), WorldGBC and the BuildingToCOP Coalition partners (High Level Climate Champions, We Mean Business, C40 Cities).
- African Alliance for Sustainable Cities and Built Environments
WorldGBC announced the launch of the African Alliance for Sustainable Cities and Built Environments at COP27. Cities and businesses in Africa need to commit to drastically reducing their emissions before 2050, but a net zero transition cannot happen without the mobilisation of the workforce of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The Alliance will serve as a regional platform to enable collaboration and knowledge sharing for the built environment across the continent.
Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High Level Champion for Egypt, COP27:
“The built environment is a critical sector to achieve the needed transition to a resilient and zero emissions future. Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of all extracted materials.
“In Africa alone, with increasing population growth and rapid unplanned urbanisation, there is mounting demand for buildings. We have an urgent need to meet rapid delivery of resilient homes and buildings, and we need to avoid ‘locking’ emissions in inefficient construction.
“This is an investment opportunity, with bankable projects seeking finance at scale. Reducing emissions through green buildings comes with a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity over the next decade across emerging market cities. From finance to energy to job creation, the built environment can accelerate resilience and climate action across all parts of the economy.”
Why the built environment is a critical sector to achieve the needed transition to a resilient and zero emissions future
Over 37% of global energy related CO2 emissions are generated by the built environment. In 2021, operational CO2 emissions from the buildings sector were 5% higher compared to 2020, and 2% higher than the previous peak in 2019.
Globally, approximately 100 billion tonnes of waste is caused by construction, renovation and demolition, with about 35% sent to landfills. Construction material use, which already accounts for 9% of overall energy-related CO2 emissions, is predicted to double by 2060. Growth in emissions is driven by rapid urbanisation, with about five billion m2 of new floor area space added annually — the equivalent of building the size of Paris once a week.
We see positive progress in some areas. Investments in building energy efficiency rose by 16% in 2021 over 2020 levels, reaching $237 billion USD. In 2021, 158 countries referenced buildings in their Nationally Determined Contributions, up from 135 in 2020, and the number of green building certifications worldwide increased by 19% compared to 2020. This progress is encouraging but we need more, now.
All built environment initiatives announced at COP27
Read the full list of initiatives that are collectively driving deep collaboration and triggering a positive systemic transformation in the built environment.
BuildingToCOP Coalition plans for COP28
COP27 has shown that we have the solutions to create a better built environment and that we can no longer afford in-efficient, unhealthy, high-emitting buildings in transforming the sector and reaching the critical goals of halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050.
The BuildingToCOP Coalition calls on COP28 to prioritise the built environment as an urgent and critical climate solution. A built environment day at COP28 will keep the pressure on decision makers, continue to rally the sector, and bring the diverse sector together to collaborate and put these solutions into action.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The #BuildingToCOP27 Coalition is a group of business and government networks focused on sustainability in the built environment — united around shared climate goals for the built environment system, developed through the UNFCCC Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action Human Settlements and Resilience Pathway, highlighting the built environment as a critical solution provider to the climate crisis.
C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities. Through a Global Green New Deal, mayors are working alongside a broad coalition of representatives from labour, business, the youth climate movement and civil society to go further and faster than ever before. The current Chair of C40 is Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; and three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board.
Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GlobalABC)
Founded at COP21, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, and with 256 members, including 37 countries, the GlobalABC is the leading platform for all stakeholders along the buildings and construction sector value chain, including governments, private sector, civil society, research, and intergovernmental organizations, to jointly work towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector. The GlobalABC tracks the sector’s annual global climate action progress including through its Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction (Buildings-GSR), advocates for market transformation and focuses on catalysing action by defining a carbon neutrality strategy for the built environment and supports countries in setting priorities and measures based on their situation including by developing policy guidance and global and regional buildings and construction roadmaps.
Resilience Rising is a global consortium of NGOs and initiatives working together to build systemic resilience to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Each consortium organisation represents an essential community of practice, key stakeholders we consider pivotal to the success of transforming the built environment and essential infrastructure. These are: Engineers; Business Innovators; Infrastructure Owners & Operators; Policymakers; Future Leaders; and Investors.
The members of Resilience Rising include:
- Resilience First, the world’s largest business network, providing the ways and means to drive resilience at scale.
- The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure which is mobilizing an engineering-led coalition to make resilience and sustainability a cornerstone of every decision in the infrastructure lifecycle in every community around the globe.
- The Resilience Shift, a global network of members, partners and collaborators, using research to influence police, shape practices and share learning, on resilience.
Resilience Rising is also a Managing Partner of the Resilience Hub at the Conference of Parties.
Connect with Resilience Rising on Twitter and Linkedin.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
WBCSD is the premier global, CEO-led community of over 200 of the world’s leading sustainable businesses working collectively to accelerate the system transformations needed for a net zero, nature positive, and more equitable future.
We do this by engaging executives and sustainability leaders from business and elsewhere to share practical insights on the obstacles and opportunities we currently face in tackling the integrated climate, nature and inequality sustainability challenge; by co-developing “how-to” CEO-guides from these insights; by providing science-based target guidance including standards and protocols; and by developing tools and platforms to help leading businesses in sustainability drive integrated actions to tackle climate, nature and inequality challenges across sectors and geographical regions.
Our member companies come from all business sectors and all major economies, representing a combined revenue of more than USD $8.5 trillion and 19 million employees. Our global network of almost 70 national business councils gives our members unparalleled reach across the globe. Since 1995, WBCSD has been uniquely positioned to work with member companies along and across value chains to deliver impactful business solutions to the most challenging sustainability issues.
Together, we are the leading voice of business for sustainability, united by our vision of a world in which 9+ billion people are living well, within planetary boundaries, by mid-century.
Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC)
IIGCC is the European membership body for investor collaboration on climate change and the voice of investors taking action for a prosperous, low carbon future. IIGCC has more than 375 members, mainly pension funds and asset managers, across 23 countries, with over €51 trillion in assets under management.
IIGCC works to support and help define the public policies, investment practices and corporate behaviours that address the long-term risks and opportunities associated with climate change. For more information visit www.iigcc.org and @iigccnews
World Green Building Council (WorldGBC)
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) catalyses the uptake of sustainable built environments for everyone, everywhere.
Transforming the building and construction sector across three strategic areas — climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity — we are a global action network of over 70 Green Building Councils around the world.
As members of the UN Global Compact, we work with businesses, organisations and governments to drive the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Through a systems change approach, our network is leading the industry towards net zero carbon, healthy, equitable and resilient built environments. Find out more www.worldgbc.org
For further information contact:
Marketing and Communications Manager,
World Green Building Council