Home » COP27: Where Are We Going, and Why Are We in This Climate Handbasket?
The United Nations climate conference (COP27) closed in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh this weekend with an overtime victory. A breakthrough agreement on the contentious issue of climate reparations provides for a “Loss and Damage” fund to support less-wealthy countries that are vulnerable to disproportionate climate impacts. Parties at the conference also emphasized for the first time the need not only to mitigate climate change, but to adapt in the face of it. And, crucially, countries reaffirmed their commitment to reduce carbon emissions in line with keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. That goal, however, is now fragile at best, with current national commitments putting the planet on track for a 2.5-degree increase by the end of the century. "A fund for loss and damage is essential,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “but it's not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map—or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition."
So does the AEC sector. The gap between the sector’s current trajectory and the pathway to decarbonize by 2050 is wider than ever, according to the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, released at COP27 by the UN Environment Programme-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. In 2021, emissions from buildings and construction—which account for 37 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—rebounded from pandemic levels to reach a new all-time high. Worldwide, raw material use is predicted to double by 2060, with steel and concrete already major sources of emissions. In the Global South, which is expected to account for 90 percent of total population increase over the next two decades, construction materials are projected to dominate resource consumption, with associated GHG emissions also set to double by 2060. Meanwhile, just 26 percent of countries have mandatory and comprehensive building energy codes.
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