Maria Atkinson

17th December 2009 – A new report by UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) was tabled at the same meeting. “Buildings and Climate Change: summary for Decision Makers” highlights opportunities for drastic emission reductions in the building sector and shows how these opportunities can be harnessed.

“No government – let it be in an industrialised or in a developing country – can leave buildings out of its policy toolbox if it wants to save energy and reach serious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” said the Finnish Housing Minister, Jan Vapaavuori, who opened the meeting hosted by his government, and jointly organised by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative – whose chairwoman is Lend Lease’s global head of sustainability, Maria Atkinson; the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Buildings and Construction, and the UNEP Finance Initiative.

Introducing the Common Carbon Metric, the chairman of SBCI’s think tank on climate change, Stéphane Pouffary, stressed the importance of having one common tool – a common language – in place to provide an internationally coherent and consistent method for measuring the climate footprint of buildings.

A new report by UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics was tabled at the same meeting. “Buildings and Climate Change: summary for Decision Makers” highlights opportunities for drastic emission reductions in the building sector and shows how these opportunities can be harnessed.

The report says the current climate footprint from buildings is equivalent to 8.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year and is predicted to almost double to 15.6 billion tons by 2030. In addition, the pressure to develop new buildings as a result of population growth, urbanisation and modernisation will lead to an almost doubling of existing building stock in developing countries by 2050.

DTIE’s director Sylvie Lemmet urged COP15 negotiators to make the building sector count in the outcome of negotiations, and to put in place an agreement that will support emission reduction in the building sector at international, national and local levels.

Diana Urge-Vorsatz, lead author of the buildings chapter in the 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, presented new research showing that the emission reduction potential in buildings is much higher than was presented in that IPCC report.

“Every new building we build, and every building we renovate, has the promise to make or break a low-carbon footprint for decades to come. This is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to lose,” she said. UNEP’s Finance Initiative said there was an overwhelmingly positive business case for emission reductions from buildings.

The event is the fifth time UNEP SBCI and partners have formally organised side events as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process.