Building & construction sector show collective force at COP28

Over 350 industry leaders sign Open Letter to negotiators and heads of states demanding regulatory change to tackle the #climatecrisis

with World Green Building Council on December 6, 2023


Today (6 December 2023), the built environment is centre stage during the ‘Multilevel Action, Urbanization and Built Environment/Transport’ day at the UN Climate Summit COP28. The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), its global network of 75+ national Green Building Councils (GBCs), and leading businesses in the buildings and construction sector are presenting a unified call to action to political leaders, stressing the critical role of the built environment to deliver climate solutions.

The Open Letter is accompanied by a policy briefing that lays out the regulatory outcomes urgently needed to scale up action and deliver on the sector’s huge potential. It also supports the Buildings Breakthrough (a high-level political announcement launched today endorsed by 25+ countries in the context of the Breakthrough Agenda global process), calling for ‘near-zero emission and resilient buildings as the new normal by 2030’.

As a founding member of the WorldGBC, the Canada Green Building Council was proud to add its voice to the Open Letter.

The Statement

The Open Letter goes beyond simply mitigating the negative impacts of the sector’s emissions, and makes bold claims about its potential for enormous contributions to social equity and financial prosperity. The letter highlights that beyond the opportunity to reduce 37 percent of total carbon emissions, the building and construction sector can also create $1.5 trillion in sustainable investment opportunities in emerging markets, and lift 2.8 billion people out of energy poverty.

The letter was fronted by signatories of WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (a leadership initiative in the sustainable built environment arena), WorldGBC corporate partners (including ARUP, Buro Happold, CEMEX, Saint Gobain, Signify, Siemens, Skanska, Stora Enso, Schneider Electric, Knauf Insulation, WSP) and Green Building Councils (representing 46,000 private and public sector members around the world). A total of over 350 organizations and businesses have put their support behind the letter and the numbers are growing daily. These leaders are operating across every region on the planet, both on a local and global scale.

The Challenge

The building and construction sector accounts for nearly 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions. It is a huge industry nexus and demand sector, with cities consuming 70% of all global resources. Whilst awareness of the sector’s impact and its potential as a climate solution is rising, so are its operating emissions, which have grown by an average of 1 percent year on year from 2015 to 2021.

The resilience of the global building stock is insufficient to cope with a growing population alongside the impacts of climate change. Flooding and extreme heat pose an imminent risk not only to human life, but also to social cohesion and economic stability.

Last but certainly not least, the financial stakes are high. We see companies that are not treating decarbonization as a serious business need and are therefore already paying a carbon premium in the short term; in the long term, they will miss out on emerging opportunities to secure market share, faced with shifting decarbonization investment and regulatory environments.

The Open Letter Ask

The WorldGBC network and its partners are calling for:

  • Strong political leadership to scale the sustainable transformation of the built environment.
  • Climate Mitigation: Parties commit to the integration of building codes, sub-national policy & commitment within their Nationally Determined Contributions, pledge to double energy efficiency improvements & triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Climate Adaptation: Parties agree on a global goal for adaptation, recognize the role of buildings in anticipating, adapting, & responding to climate impacts, commit to making greater efforts to integrate resilience & adaptation into existing policies & programs, including within the building sector.
  • Climate Finance: Parties agree to increased funding for energy efficiency improvements and Loss and Damage, support a global reform of financial institutions for more just, equitable & effective debt lending & borrowing.
  • The Global Stocktake: Parties to commit to the Buildings Breakthrough as a platform for collaboration between national governments and stakeholders to accelerate action & optimize the role of buildings in closing the gaps identified in the Global Stocktake.

Find out more here and follow the campaign on social media at #BuildingTheTransition.

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