Top of the COP(28) for the Construction Sector

Most of us already know how important decarbonisation of the construction sector is, limiting the effects of climate change and reaching the UK’s Net Zero target for 2050.  Yet a recent report from the Climate Change Committee (CCC, Oct 23) highlights that the UK’s timelines are slipping, citing the government’s lack of progress and leadership on this issue. 

As COP28 draws to a close, here’s our Top 3 takeaways for the construction sector, which for many has been the most controversial of COPs:

  1. Buildings Breakthrough. 28 countries, who account for around 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, agreed to strengthen international collaboration to decarbonize the building sector, ensure clean technologies and sustainable solutions are affordable and accessible to all regions by 2030. This agreement will mobilise via a kick off session in March 2024, seeing the construction sector and it’s stakeholders meeting to agree priority actions, led by the UNEP. The target being that “near-zero emission and resilient buildings are the new normal by 2030”.
  2. Transition Away.  In the final hours of the Summit, almost every country agreed to “transition away from fossil fuels” by 2050, a COP first to use such specific language, representing acknowledgement that fossil fuels are a driver of climate change.  Yet 130 out of 200 countries felt the wording of the agreement should be more ambitious and explicit, calling for a ‘phase out’ rather than ‘transition’, leading to the disappointment of many.  The question is, whether those 130 countries will forge the way regardless of COP28’s lacklustre wording?
  3. Triple Renewables. More than 110 countries, including the UK, prioritised the commitment to triple renewable energy generation by 2030.  Removal of key barriers to this commitment included ‘permitting, leases and grid connections’, where focussed action will be needed to scale up the building of solar and wind power, under a ‘massive clean energy revolution’ this decade.

Many question how realistically achievable this is in the next 6.5 years, considering the relatively slow pace of transition reported in 2023, with renewable electricity generation capacity up 6% on the same quarter last year, offshore wind growing by 9%, and solar at 8% per cent, the highest rate of quarter-on-quarter growth since the second quarter of 2022. There will need to be a meeting of minds to shift policy, technology innovation and financial support to reach this triple target.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Energy Trends, UK April to June 2023 (here)

Historically, the construction sector has risen well to the challenges set against the backdrop of Net Zero 2050 commitments, yet struggled with the lack of policy and funding to mobilise.  The World Green Building Council presented a unified call to action open letter at COP28, asking leaders to deliver the regulations necessary to scale up and deliver potential within the construction sector, leading to a 37% reduction in global carbon emissions, creating $1.5 trillion in sustainable investment opportunities within emerging markets, and lifting 2.8 billion people out of energy poverty.

With the increasing focus on Sustainability in the construction industry, we at VOLOCO can provide support to Contractors, Subcontractors and Developers ensuring compliance with regulatory and project specifications as part of comprehensive construction consulting services.

Find out more about our services here. Please get in touch if you think this would be of benefit to you.

Flags at COP28

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