The United Nation’s climate change conference, the Conference of Parties, or COP26, is less than a week away. In the runup to the event, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (Global ABC), a partnership of governments, the private sector, and international organizations, has released a report outlining the progress of the buildings sector in curbing carbon. The latest data—from 2020—show that emissions are at their lowest level since 2007 and are down 10 percent versus 2019. The reductions, although seemingly impressive, are attributed to Covid-related shutdowns, and therefore are only temporary. “There is not yet an underlying structural change in the operations of buildings,” said Ian G. Hamilton, at an October 19 virtual event announcing the report’s release. Hamilton is a University College London professor and one of the report’s authors.
Energy use and carbon emissions will likely rebound as economies emerge from the pandemic, as several presenters at the launch event noted. “We won’t meet the 1.5 degree Celsius goal without action today,” said Kate Hughes, director for international climate change in the UK’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. She was referring to the temperature-rise threshold that climate experts say should not be crossed to avoid the worst effects of planetary warming. In order to ratchet down emissions from buildings, the Global ABC study urges a three-pronged strategy of energy demand reduction, decarbonizing the power supply, and addressing the carbon embodied in construction materials. “We have the solutions,” said Hughes. “We just need to deploy them faster.”
Read more about the report here: 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction.