On 20-21 February 2019, the members of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) met in Ottawa, Canada, for their global Assembly. Hosted by the government of Canada, the delegates reviewed progress of the building sector globally to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement of keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees. The buildings sector is a crucial sector that needs to decarbonize as it is responsible for approximately 40% total global energy-related CO2 emissions as indicated in the latest Global Status Report and is characterized by high fragmentation and low innovation.  

Launched at COP21, the GlobalABC is a voluntary partnership of national and local governments, inter-governmental organizations, businesses, associations and think thanks committed to achieving the vision of a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector. The GlobalABC functions as a platform for its 113 members, among which 26 countries, to share best practice, raise ambition and develop supporting tools for the transition to a low-carbon building sector.

Led by strong calls to action from the Ministries of Environment of Canada and Argentina, the Assembly discussions focused on the strategic importance of providing affordable and sustainable housing and attractive places as key benefits of more energy efficient and low-carbon buildings. Discussions centered around what it takes to transform the buildings sector – with a combination of commitments and leading examples from private sector companies and ambitious regulations and action plans of national and local governments.

In the GlobalABC, WBCSD brings in the private sector voice and perspective. In addition is leading the development of a new approach to enable companies in the building and construction system to set science-based targets (SBT) that support the reduction of life-cycle carbon emissions of buildings. The challenge is that for any company in the building value chain to set carbon reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement, it needs to account for how its own emissions reductions affect a building’s life-cycle carbon emissions. A discussion paper was presented on how companies can collaborate along the full value chain to align their emissions reductions strategies.

The focus of the GlobalABC in 2019 will be on taking its Global Roadmap to different regions in order to support countries to develop their own roadmaps and set ambitious targets adapted to their situation and needs. The GlobalABC will also continue to offer its global convening platform to all stakeholders, notably in preparation of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September 2019 and COP25 in Chile.

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