Building momentum at COP26 - Historic engagement and visibility for the Built Environment
During 1-12 November, the world gathered in Glasgow, UK, to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The built environment had the greater presence in a COP ever, thanks to coordinated efforts by the #BuildingToCOP26 coalition, the Buildings Pavilion, and the dedicated “Cities, Regions and Built Environment” thematic day. Speaking with one voice and one ambition, the signals sent across the different platforms is: accounting for nearly 48% of global emissions, the built environment is vital to halve emissions by 2030 and limiting global heating to 1.5℃, consolidated in the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA) Human Settlements Pathway:
- By 2030, the built environment should halve its emissions, whereby 100 per cent 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 per cent, with leading projects achieving at least 50 per cent 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.
#BuildingsPavilion - a space for deep collaboration among an ever-growing (built environment) community
With more than 123 events on the built environment both on-site and online, of which 39 took place at the #BuildingsPavilion, COP26 saw a great presence of voices for the built environment, delivering strong messages on the climate action sleeping giant that the buildings sector is. GlobalABC co-organized events include:
- Launch of the Clean Heat Forum, initiated by the UK under the umbrella of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC)to accelerate heating decarbonization in buildings.
- Buildings and Adaptation: a call for action: lead by GlobalABC adaptation working group presented key facts from the report "Buildings and Climate Change Adaptation: A call for action" (launched early 2021 at the Climate Adaptation Summit) and launched the “Adaptation of the building sector to climate change: 10 principles for effective action".
- Built Environment Market Transformation: presented the current status of emissions in the built environment (GlobalABC 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction), what needs to be done to reduce them (RIBA and Architects Declare “Built for the Environment” report). It marked the launch of the “Global Market Transformation Levers for a Net Zero Built Environment" identified by the GlobalABC community as part of the Work Area 3 ‘Market Transformation’ co-lead by WBCSD, WorldGBC, Holcim.
To foster radical collaboration, the first Buildings Pavilion was organized by GlobalABC in a successful partnership with the We Mean Business Coalition and facilitated through a group of committed sponsors. 39 events were held at the Buildings Pavilion, following a schedule of building themes, exploring the whole value chain and life cycle of buildings, consolidating it as an action hub for actors driving this transformation. A community of public and private stakeholders, governments, businesses, civil society and professional communities speaking with one voice and one ambition, calling all stakeholders to be engaged and committed to achieving a zero-carbon and resilient sector by 2050.
All the recorded sessions are available at the GlobalABC website and YouTube channel, including the #LiveCoffeeTalks to watch our communications expert Mariana Castano Cano interviewing several industry experts at Glasgow (also available at the GlobalABC LinkedIn channel).
#BuildingToCOP26 coalition - the sector speaks with one voice and one ambition
Composed of C40, GlobalABC, Resilience Shift, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Green Building Council, the #BuildingToCOP26 coalition is a group of business and government networks focused on sustainability in the built environment — united around shared climate goals for the built environment system. Working in close cooperation with the UN High Level Climate Champions team, this coalition formed in early 2021 is combining forces to bring all its constituencies - governments, businesses, financial institutions, civil society, academia, among others - to showcase the progress that the buildings sector has been championing, push for further enhanced ambition and alert to the gaps where action is urgent.
Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day - recognition of the sector as a climate action heavyweight
This edition of the event was special in that the UK COP26 Presidency has selected Cities, Regions and Built Environment as a priority theme, with a dedicated day on 11 November. The last dedicated Buildings day took place at COP21, five years ago.
Among the many activities across this day, three high-level events are highlighted:
- Building a Better World Together: Accelerating Deep Collaboration for Built Environment Climate Action, which focused on collaboration along the building's value chain, the challenges associated with climate change and achieving the Paris Agreement goals and the increasing sense of urgency to engage in action that will result in tangible outcomes
- Ministers and Mayors on Buildings as a Critical Climate Solution - addressing the critical policy actions to decarbonize buildings and how to successfully work with cities.
- MPGCA Cities, Regions and Built Environment Action Event: Building Places for People to Thrive in a Zero-Carbon, Resilient Future - the event demonstrated the key enablers and market drivers of the entire buildings and construction value chain to influence innovative action, as well as circular economy approaches towards a net-zero resilient transition.
What comes next?
The GlobalABC, together with its members and partners, is looking forward to build on the increased momentum for the buildings sector at COP26 to continue to advocate and facilitate decarbonization of the built environment.
- Build on the #BuildingToCOP26 coalition and work with the next COP Presidencies - after the successful experience in Glasgow, the partnership will work towards increased ambition and visibility for buildings with COP27 Presidency and High Level Climate Champion team.
- Scale-up the work on advancing building decarbonization - working through its core bodies and products, the GlobalABC is:
- Working with countries towards a buildings sector ‘break-through’,
- Expanding the roadmap development process to new countries and regions, supporting the establishment of clear and ambitious long-term strategies for decarbonization.
- Continuing work on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Continue its support to global processes for ratcheting up ambition - through the Race To Zero and Race To Zero campaigns, as well as its leadership of the Built Environment track of the Human Settlements group under the MPGCA.