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Buildings set to deliver systemic change and deliver on the Paris Agreement – WorldGBC´s response to the UN Global Stocktake report

12 September 2023

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released last 8 September the Global Stocktake (GST) synthesis report, which offers a comprehensive overview of progress and critical gaps regarding climate action and government leadership to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The synthesis report states that implementation must accelerate to deploy existing and emerging solutions, whilst ambition must increase across all fronts, including the built environment, taking an ‘all of society’ approach.

The GST summarises 17 key technical findings from the consultation phase, which WorldGBC contributed to last February. WorldGBC is pleased to see our recommendations on the cross-cutting role of buildings acknowledged in this crucial report:

  • Measures to implement systems transformations in industry, transport, buildings and other sectors must rapidly reduce process and energy emissions
    • Ambitious implementation of measures can reduce emissions in those sectors and across their supply chains while reducing costs and delivering co-benefits
    • Reducing industrial emissions will require demand management, significantly increasing energy efficiency gains across all sectors, electrification, innovation in hard-to-abate subsectors, greater circularity and attention to emissions across supply chains.
  • Both existing and yet-to-be-built buildings can be net zero emissions by mid-century if they use low-carbon construction materials, reduce energy demand and implement mitigation options in design, construction, use and retrofits.

Importantly, the report calls for more action from governments to implement policies that deliver systems transformation and the need for further ambition in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Now – as we are building the transition – is the time when governments will need to be more ambitious in relation to decarbonisation of and committing to activating the levers of change outlined in WorldGBCs Global Policy Principles when they update their NDCs by 2025.

In addition to the mitigation and adaptation potential of buildings, the GST also finds that there are increasing trends in global finance flows for climate action, which has been driven by the increasing number of mitigating actions in buildings and transport.

Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC said:

“As global leaders absorb the findings of the GST ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP28 in Dubai, we urge them to reflect on how their actions and policies on buildings will help them achieve the goals they are signed up to under the Paris Agreement.

As the largest contributing sector to climate change, the built environment can deliver the transformative change needed to decarbonise the global economy, but also address other pressing societal issues, including energy security, resilience, health and biodiversity.

Our collective network of 75+ Green Building Councils know that the solutions exist, we are ready to scale and work with the government to ensure that pledges, commitments and promises are turned into action and deliver the change the world demands.”

In the run up to the UN Climate Summit COP28, and in the world’s first Global Stocktake year, we must remember that 1.5ºC is a limit, not a target. As part of the Building to COP Coalition we are elevating the built environment as a critical climate solution ahead of COP28, and ensuring 2023 is the transformative year for our sector.

As a community of building and construction stakeholders, we are uniquely positioned to ensure that pledges, commitments and promises are turned into action.

Our collective network of 75+ Green Building Councils know that the solutions exist, and collectively we are ready to scale and work with governments to deliver the change the world demands.

Read our full response to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Stocktake (GST)