Performance of building sector critical to achieving COP 21 targets

The results reached at COP 21 signals a long awaited response to the dangerously high levels of CO2 emissions. In comparison to the disappointing conference in Copenhagen in 2009, the COP 21 indicates a new era where continued industry action is taking place in line with a political agreement.
“Maintaining the performance of the building sector will be critical in achieving the targets”, says Robert Dicker from the Construction Climate Challenge Initiative.

The signed agreement at COP 21 has been hailed by many as a new beginning. Developed and developing nations ambitiously agreed to cap CO2 emissions to relatively safe levels consistent with a temperature increase well below 2°C.

A transition away from human dependence on fossil fuels, to sustainable, clean energy solutions and to improve energy efficiency is required to maintain the momentum of change. To the construction sector, this marks a significant turning point.

Robert Dickner

Robert Dickner

Responsible for more than 30% of the worlds green house gases, the construction industry plays a big role.

“This is crucial. We finally have a political agreement in line with what the construction sector have been working towards for a long time already. Maintaining and improving the performance of the building sector will be critical in achieving the targets in the COP 21 agreement and to make genuine change”, says Robert Dicker, representative for the CCC attending the Building Day Conference at COP 21.

A driving force at large behind real action at the COP 21 was The Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA). An initiative led by France, Peru, the UN Secretary-General and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aimed at showcasing the commitments and partnerships of cities, regions, businesses and civil society organizations.

Looking to the future, Robert Dicker also emphasises the value of transparency as an important factor for change.

“Clarity on long-term government climate and carbon polices is still needed to secure real action. Climate and carbon policies, including regulations and incentives, will reduce uncertainty about the returns that will accrue over the building life cycle.”

To highlight the significant impact of the construction industry, 20 countries and over 60 organizations unveiled a cooperation initiative to speed up and scale-up the potential of the sector for climate action. Entitled the Global Alliance for Building and Construction, the event, which gathered stakeholders from the entire sector, announced the initiative at the Lima to Paris Action Agenda Focus on buildings.

One of the most noted targets set by the coalition, was the World Green Building Council’s commitment to a global market transformation to achieve two goals by 2050: net zero carbon from new building and the energy efficiency retrofit of existing stock.

“The complexity of how to challenge all the climate issue at large will unfold in the decades that follow. COP 21 did not guarantee success, but it did provide the platform for a more optimistic future”, Robert Dicker sums up.