10% drop in construction emissions misleading says report

By Mike Hayes15 November 2021

Lockdowns and slowing economies have reduced CO2, not decarbonising measures

Image courtesy Adobe stock

Construction’s active role in reducing carbon emissions has been minimal, according to new research from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC).

The UN-backed organisation makes the statement in its recently-published Global Status report, in which it recognises there was a 10% reduction in emissions from construction in 2020, compared with 2015 levels, but insists the sector’s efforts to decarbonise “played only a small role” in the change.

GlobalABC cites Covid lockdowns as a major factor in the reduction, along with an inherent economic slowdown and fall in construction activity.

With this in mind, the organisation believes global emissions will rebound this year, as nations emerge from the pandemic.

In 2015, 13.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions were generated by the construction and operation of buildings, equating to 38% of all emissions.

In 2020, the number had fallen to 11.7 gigatons – a level not seen since 2007.

The report says some reduction in emissions has been seen in the power sector and also gives praise to the growing number of countries that have adopted stronger policies on energy efficiency in buildings.

Other positive signs mentioned in the report include a significant growth in the number of countries now including emissions-control actions in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are commitments originally made within the framework of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Worryingly, however, the report points out that by 2030, some 82% of the world’s population could be living in countries that currently have no building energy codes – a fact that could have a significantly detrimental effect on built-environment emissions.

The full GlobalABC report on Buildings and Construction can be downloaded here.

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