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#BreakthroughAgenda 2023 Report calls on buildings to cut emissions in order to keep 1.5°C in reach

As World Green Building Week draws to a close, the publication of The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2023 sends a strong message to governments to strengthen collaboration in key areas – such as standards and regulation, financial and technical assistance and market creation – to turbocharge the transition to a sustainable future.

The report is an annual collaboration between the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations High-Level Climate Champions, focused on supporting stronger international collaboration to accelerate emissions reductions.

This is the second annual report, but the first time that a chapter has been dedicated to Buildings and Cement, where new breakthroughs are being considered.

The report states that to get on track with net zero, building sector emissions must fall by about 50% from their 2022 level by 2030. However, emissions within the buildings sector have grown at an average of 1% per year since 2015, with the global growth of floor area outpacing these efficiency and decarbonisation efforts.

The report’s chapters on buildings aim to identify priority areas of the intergovernmental cooperation needed to accelerate action globally. Improvements include:

  • Governments using common concepts to upgrade and harmonise definitions of near-zero and resilient buildings.
  • Governments to work in partnership with existing forums to aggregate and amplify the demand signal for net zero and resilient buildings.
  • Need for governments to increase the scale of financial and technical assistance made available for developing countries.
  • Countries and companies should jointly define training and capacity building priorities, strengthening the role of existing networks to provide guidance. 
  • Countries should focus on delivering technical capacity for the implementation and upgrade of building energy codes in countries where most growth in floor area is forecast.

Collaboration is identified as a keyway to achieve collective goals and WorldGBC’s efforts have been highlighted as a mechanism to drive the systemic change needed via global programmes and regional networks, including: the Advancing Net Zero programme, the Circularity Accelerator programme, the Better Places for People programme and the ‘Global Policy Principles for a Sustainable Built Environment’.

Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC said:

“We are very pleased to see the Breakthrough Report acknowledging the key role that buildings can play in delivering the systemic transformation needed for a sustainable and decarbonised future.

Whilst we are still absorbing the findings of the Global Stocktake and preparing for the UN Climate Summit COP28 in Dubai, we are once again reminded of the need to accelerate emissions reductions by activating key levers of change and delivering the required policy interventions.

Our collective network of 75+ Green Building Councils are ready to work with the signatories of the Breakthrough to deliver the change the world demands.”