UK and other countries sign international pledge to cut carbon emissions from buildings

This declaration aims to facilitate a swift, equitable, and effective transition within the sector to lower carbon emissions from buildings.The inaugural Buildings and Climate Global Forum, organised by the French Government and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded last week.  Representatives from 70 countries adopted the Declaration de Chaillot, a foundational document for international cooperation. This declaration aims to facilitate a swift, equitable, and effective transition within the sector to lower carbon emissions from buildings.

The forum, held in the French capital, focused on the decarbonization and climate resilience of buildings. According to the recent Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, jointly released by UNEP and the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), the building and construction sector accounts for over a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022, it contributed to 37 percent of global operational energy and process-related CO2 emissions.

Within the Declaration de Chaillot, ministers who signed the document highlight the growing climate-related risks faced by buildings due to accelerated climate change. These risks disproportionately affect developing countries and cities. Additionally, by 2050, an estimated 68 percent of the global population will reside in urban areas, and global demand for raw materials is projected to double by 2060.

The signatories emphasize the need for increased sustainable building renovations and constructions. They recognize the gap between the sector’s current trajectory and the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C by 2100. Furthermore, they condemn investments in systems and buildings with excessive carbon emissions and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources for construction materials, which contributes to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.

The ministers committed to:

  • Implementing roadmaps, regulatory frameworks, and mandatory building and energy codes to move towards carbon-neutral buildings;
  • Implementing an appropriate financial framework with financial and fiscal incentives, and regulatory tools to increase the share of resilient, near-zero emission, and affordable buildings;
  • Promoting the adoption of labels, standards, and certifications;
  • Leading by example by adopting ambitious policies regarding public procurement;
  • Promoting the production, development, and use of low-carbon, durable, and cost-effective construction materials;
  • Promoting collaborative value chains, as well as research and development of innovative solutions;
  • Improving skills by strengthening local know-how, considering mitigation and adaptation strategies;
  • Developing multi-level governance, coordination among different stakeholders, and a more participatory approach to ensure coordination of implementation;
  • And developing tools and regulatory frameworks to collect and share data and best practices.

To ensure the implementation of these commitments, the ministers pledge to utilise all international forums such as the G7, G20, G77, and climate COPs to further incorporate the specific issues of construction and buildings. They announce the establishment of an “Intergovernmental Council for Buildings and Climate” coordinated by the GlobalABC to facilitate and monitor the implementation of the goals and means of the Declaration.