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Carbon emissions from construction hit new high, leaving sector off track to decarbonize by 2050: United Nations

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The building and construction sector’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions have recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic to an all-time high, a new analysis indicates, despite a surge in energy efficiency investment and a decrease in energy intensity.


The 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, which was unveiled at the most recent round of climate negotiations in Egypt, COP27, indicates that the industry was responsible for over 34% of energy consumption and around 37% of energy- and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.

Ten gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent were released into the atmosphere as a result of the sector’s operational energy use, which is 5% more than 2020 levels and 2% more than the pre-pandemic high in 2019. Buildings’ operational energy needs for heating, cooling, lighting, and other equipment grew by about 4% from 2020 and by 3% from 2019.

The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) research states that this indicates a growing disconnect between the sector’s climate performance and the pathway to complete decarbonization in 2050.

The effects of climate change have materialised, despite years of warnings, according to Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). We shall face worse problems if we do not immediately reduce emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

“The buildings industry accounts for 40% of Europe’s energy demand, with fossil fuels accounting for 80% of that need. This qualifies the sector as a place where policies, investments, and prompt action are needed to advance both short- and long-term energy security.

To achieve these reductions, the buildings industry must be decarbonized by 2050. The sector must enhance the energy efficiency of buildings, lower the carbon footprint of building materials, multiply policy promises alongside action, and raise investment in energy efficiency in order to reduce overall emissions.

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