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COP24: huge untapped potential in greener construction, says UN environment agency

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Noting some progress in greening the global construction industry, the United Nations environment agency (UNEP) co-released a report on Friday at the COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, sounding the alarm on the need for “dramatic action” to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s critical we have a big change over the next couple of years in how we do buildings and construction”, said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. “We only need to look at the current norms and quality of many buildings to see that we can do so much better,” she said, emphasizing that “we need to raise the bar in energy-efficient, green buildings and far better practice in construction.”

 

Titled ‘Towards a Zero-Emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector’, the report co-authored by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and UNEP, was presented against the backdrop of ongoing COP24 negotiations on how to move ahead with the implementation of the climate action agreement adopted in Paris, in 2015, when 197 parties committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

 

What will make things even more challenging, is that the number of new buildings is anticipated to grow rapidly in the coming years, especially in the urban areas of Africa and Asia. “Buildings are a key driver of energy demand, and developments within the sector such as the growing uptake of air conditioners are having a big impact on energy and environmental trends at the global level,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, which is an autonomous intergovernmental organization.

 

One of the commitments of the Paris Agreement is for countries to develop and scale-up their own national climate action plans but, to date, only 104 plans mention specific actions to enhance energy-efficiency in buildings, building codes and energy certifications. Very few tackle the issue of construction materials – such as steel and cement – and the carbon emissions involved in their manufacturing.

 

Read the article on United Nations News webisite.