Geneva, 11 November - Today, on Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26, business leaders and national, regional and city-level policymakers will gather to discuss the collaborative solutions that can accelerate climate action over the next decade. As part of the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is one of the organizers of the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day in collaboration with UN High-Level Climate Champions, the COP26 Presidency and the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). To mark this dedicated day, the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition has highlighted 26 game-changing built environment climate initiatives, including:
- WBCSD’s Business Manifesto for Climate Recovery – built around 12 priority actions that businesses and policymakers should prioritize now to halt damaging global heating and begin the process of climate recovery.
- Market Transformation Levers for a Net Zero Built Environment – co-developed by WBCSD under the umbrella of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC). This work highlights three fundamental actions to drive market transformation along the full value chain of the built environment.
- WBCSD member company Arup commits to whole life-cycle carbon assessments for all buildings work and withdrawal from fossil fuels
- WBCSD’s report The Business Case for Circular Buildings – showing that the business case for circular buildings is positive if we account for true cost and value on a life-cycle basis.
Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% 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.
The initiatives showcased today send a clear signal to policymakers and the private sector that the built environment is vital to halving emissions by 2030 and limiting global heating to 1.5℃.
How cross-sectoral collaboration is starting to accelerate
The #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition has united around shared climate goals for the built environment system, developed through the UNFCCC Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action Human Settlements and Resilience Pathway, highlighting the built environment as a critical solution provider to the climate crisis:
- By 2030, the built environment should halve its emissions, whereby 100% 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%, with leading projects achieving at least 50% reductions in embodied carbon.
- By 2050, at the latest, all new and existing assets must be net zero across the whole life cycle, including operational and embodied emissions. (UNFCCC Human Settlements Pathway).
- In parallel to decarbonization targets, building resilience into the transformation of the built environment is critical to support urban populations and vulnerable communities in the face of future climate impacts. (UNFCCC Resilience Pathway).
The Coalition represents tens of thousands of businesses, governments and civil society organizations across the world and their alliance signals accelerated, deep collaboration across the entire built environment value chain.
Initiatives highlighted at Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day
In total, 26 initiatives have been announced that are collectively driving deep collaboration and triggering a positive systemic transformation in the built environment:
- Business announcements
- WBCSD’s Business Manifesto for Climate Recovery
- GlobalABC Market Transformation Levers for a Net Zero Built Environment
- 42 businesses announced as signatories to WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment tackling operational and embodied carbon
- Green Building Principles: The Action Plan for Net Zero Carbon
- Race to Zero: Built Environment
- Beyond the Business Case report
- Arup commits to whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all buildings work and withdrawal from fossil fuels [NJ1] from next year
- Beyond Buildings Report
- The Business Case for Circular Buildings report
- 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué
- Built By Nature
- RIBA and Architects Declare call to action
- SBTI launches Global Net Zero Standard
- World’s largest steel and concrete buyers make game-changing push for greener solutions
- Policy announcements
- 1,049 cities and local governments have joined Race to Zero
- UKGBC Whole Life Carbon roadmap
- Clean Heat Forum (both policy and business)
- GlobalABC The Market Transformation Levers for a Net Zero Built Environment (both policy and business)
- Clean Construction Action Coalition
- Just Transition to a Clean Construction sector joint statement
- GlobalABC Country Commitments
- Global Status Report 2021 for Buildings and Construction (both policy and business)
- Infrastructure Pathways (both policy and business)
- State of Climate Action 2021: Systems Transformations Required to Limit Global Warming to 1.5°C
- Net Zero Leaders
Business leaders taking part in the climate conference commented on the important role of the built environment for climate action:
Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO, Gensler
“We believe that the pathway to decarbonization can be significantly accelerated through the built environment. Because buildings substantially contribute to the world’s dependence on GHG, and buildings have decades-long impacts, addressing the built environment has the potential to be a game-changer for global decarbonization. I am confident that when all parts of the real estate and building ecosystem—designers, suppliers, constructors, owners, and operators each do their part, we will have a massive carbon reduction in this important sector.”
Sherman Kwek, CDL Group CEO
“CDL recognizes that decarbonization is necessary and critical, particularly for the built environment sector which accounts for a significant amount of carbon emissions. As we take affirmative steps to accelerate climate action, we have also expanded our green commitment by including embodied carbon in our net zero goals. We are honored to have been the sole Singapore recipient of the Terra Carta Seal from HRH The Prince of Wales, as announced at COP26, and this reinforces our climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to build a more sustainable future in Singapore and abroad.”
Neil Martin, CEO, Lendlease Europe:
“As an industry, we’re already designing and building places where millions of people will live and work in 2050 and beyond. It is critical that these places are truly fit for the future; resilient, adaptable and able to play their full part in radically reducing carbon emissions to build the Net Zero Carbon world we so urgently require. As Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day has highlighted, this will require an unprecedented level of determination and collaboration right across the value chain - from investors and developers to builders and materials producers - but it can be done, and there is no time to waste.”
To read the full press release from the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition, please click here.