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Decarbonisation of the construction industry behind on 2050 target


The buildings and construction sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050, according to the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction.

Though the industry as a whole reduced emissions during 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, released by the United Nations Environment Programme, found that the sector accounted for over 34 per cent of energy demand and around 37 per cent of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.

These changes have seen the construction industries 2021 operational energy-related CO2 emissions rise up 5 per cent over 2020 and 2 per cent over the pre-pandemic peak in 2019.

The report states that decarbonising the buildings sector by 2050 is critical to delivering these cuts to global CO2 emissions. To reduce overall emissions, the sector must improve building energy performance, decrease building materials’ carbon footprint, multiply policy commitments alongside action and increase investment in energy efficiency.

Carbon in Buildings

The emissions associated with materials and construction processes are an area the report suggests be tackled to avoid undermining energy-saving measures. Looking at alternative materials and decarbonising conventional materials such as cement has been suggested as a pathway to delivering the 2050 decarbonisation goal.

The quarrying and aggregates industries are pivotal in making strides towards these decarbonisation goals, with the goal of decarbonisation of cement by 2050 set out by the Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia (CCAA) fundamental in supplying the construction industry with low carbon materials to drive down emissions.

A focus on building materials

The report highlights that raw resource use is predicted to double by 2060. Common building resources, such as concrete and cement are already major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and overall materials used in the construction of buildings already account for around nine per cent of overall energy-related CO2 emissions.

The report highlighted major recommendations to re-align the construction industry with the 2050 decarbonisation goal and emphasises the importance of the aggregates industry to helping the construction industry reach that goal.

  • The construction and real estate industries must implement zero-carbon strategies for new and existing buildings.
  • Prioritising and using alternative and low-carbon building materials.
  • Build coalitions of national stakeholders to set targets and strategies towards a sustainable, zero-carbon and resilient buildings and construction sector through Buildings Roadmaps. Following the GlobalABC roadmaps process and model, more than 30 countries and territories have been developing roadmaps.
  • Governments and non-state actors must increase their investment in energy efficiency.
  • The building materials and construction industries must commit to reducing their CO2 emissions throughout their value chain.
  • Fast-growing countries and economies need investment in capacity-building and supply chains that promote energy-efficient designs, low-carbon and sustainable construction.
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