COP23: technical paper published on cross-cutting issues in urban environment

COP23: technical paper published on cross-cutting issues in urban environment

In advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) being held in Bonn, 6 to 17 November, the Secretariat has drawn up a ‘technical paper’ which compiles information on mitigation benefits and cobenefits of policies, practices and actions for enhancing mitigation ambition in urban environments. The paper also includes examples of options for supporting the implementation of these policies, practices and actions.

The technical paper summarizes information on best practice mitigation policies, practices and technologies that are widely used around the world and may unlock the mitigation potential in urban environments. It also presents policy options and good practices that can enhance the mitigation ambition of pre-2020 action and support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Buildings and construction account for about 40% of global energy-related GHG emissions. The improvement of building energy performance carries a large potential for cost-effective emission reductions and cost savings in the long term (UNEP, 2016).

While building energy performance has been improving by about 1.5% per year since 1990, these energy savings have been offset by the demand for larger spaces, smaller households and an increase in energy services.

Space heating in buildings accounts for one third of their energy use. Water heating consumes almost as much energy as space heating, and cooking, appliances and lighting follow (UNEP, 2016). Cooling consumes less energy, but its consumption is expected to grow as temperatures rise globally.

Some countries have already undertaken policy interventions that tackle both energy-related and refrigerant-related emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning in urban areas.

In Indonesia refrigeration and air conditioning in Indonesia’s urban areas accounts for about 40% of national energy consumption and 15.4% of national greenhouse gas emissions, excluding emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry.

In line with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the country has decided to promote low-emission and energy-efficient refrigeration and air-conditioning technologies by developing a cross-ministerial programme on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons and incentivizing the purchase of propane-based energy-efficient air conditioners and refrigerators. 

Approximately 60 countries have introduced building energy codes and standards to improve the energy efficiency of buildings (UNEP, 2016). Introducing average performance requirements of these codes and standards globally would have led to a reduction of 6 per cent in global residential energy use in 2015 (UNEP, 2016).

Most jurisdictions measure energy performance through modelling at the design stage, although some are starting to use outcome-based approaches, as construction and maintenance can impact on energy performance. Setting standards for performance of existing buildings incentivizes retrofits. Voluntary building energy certification or labelling such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method create market incentives. Similarly, setting standards for appliances and lighting improves energy efficiency (IEA, 2016b).

Financial incentives are another important tool for improving the energy efficiency of buildings. Incentives may include tax credits, rebates, loans, grants, green mortgages and bridging loans. Governments, at the national and subnational levels, can support the development of energy service companies by employing their services for public buildings, clarifying their legal and tax status, enabling their coordination with energy companies, and implementing building codes and audit and retrofit programmes.

Local authorities have a role to play in education, training and leadership in the green building sector. They can educate builders, investors and consumers on the benefits of green buildings, enable coordination among stakeholders, and participate in demonstration and pilot projects to improve energy efficiency in buildings through retrofits and implement such improved energy efficiency in new construction.

The COP23 meeting in Bonn is being organized following an innovative concept of “one conference, two zones”. During the two weeks of the conference, a vast area of the city of Bonn will become the Climate Campus that will be organized in two zones: the “Bula Zone” and the “Bonn Zone”. This approach focuses on a close integration of the zones to ensure that negotiations, events and exhibits are integrated into one conference.

See technical report on urban environment here