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New Coalition spotlights the built environment’s potential in accelerating climate action

Leading green building organizations unite to promote radical climate action at COP26's Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day.

A coalition led by C40, the Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GlobalABC), The Resilience Shift, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has formed to promote radical collaboration for climate action ahead of the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26.

The #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition members are coming together for the first time to spotlight the built environment’s potential in accelerating climate action. Working with the UN High Level Climate Champions, the COP26 Presidency and the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Coalition’s efforts will culminate on November 11 at the COP26 Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day.

“Buildings are responsible for almost 40 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50 per cent of all extracted materials. By 2050, 1.6 billion urban dwellers will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures and over 800 million people living in more than 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding,” says the Coalition.

The Coalition further states that by 2050, “The world’s building stock will double and almost 70 per cent of the global population is projected to live in urban areas. By 2060, global material use is expected to more than double and a third of this rise is attributable to materials used in the building and construction system.”

To limit warming to no more than 1.5℃ as set out in the Paris Agreement, the Coalition calls for emissions from building projects globally to be halved by 2030, and to reach net zero life-cycle emissions for all buildings by no later than 2050.

In order to meet these decarbonisation targets and establish the built environment as a major solution provider to the climate crisis, the Coalition is promoting radical collaboration across the built environment system and spotlighting frontrunner action, solutions and policy pathways across business, cities and governments. The Coalition aims to achieve three specific outcomes for COP26 and beyond:

  1. The system’s stakeholders unite behind a single voice and ambition towards shared goals: By 2030, the built environment should halve its emissions, whereby 100 percent of new buildings must be net zero carbon in operation, with widespread energy efficiency retrofit of existing assets well underway, and embodied carbon must be reduced by at least 40 percent, with leading projects achieving at least 50 percent reductions in embodied carbon.
  2. All countries are encouraged to include full building sector decarbonisation targets, concrete policies and measures, and related implementation mechanisms in their NDCs. GlobalABC is working with its country members and beyond on a country commitment ‘Buildings as Critical Climate Solution (BCCS)’ that will advance building sector measures at the national level, creating the appropriate enabling environment towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction system.
  3. 1,000 cities and at least 20 percent of the largest built environment businesses by revenue are committed to the UN’s Race to Zero.

“We can’t win the Race to Zero without winning the Race to Resilience as well. Climate breakdown and the pandemic multiply inequalities — social, environmental and economic gaps are widening across nations and across the Global North and South. By 2030, we must catalyse action by non-state actors that builds the resilience of four billion people from groups and communities who are vulnerable to climate risks,” said Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Champion for COP26.

For more information, visit: www.BuildingToCOP.org.

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