Major cities pledge to halve emissions from construction

The mayors of Oslo, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Budapest have pledged to halve emissions from all construction activities in their cities by 2030.

The pledge is part of the C40 initiative – a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. There are now almost 100 cities in this network, including Melbourne and Sydney.

One of the many activities under the C40 banner is the Clean Construction Declaration, which aims to revolutionise the global construction industry and shift it towards a more sustainable future. Mayors from the cities listed above have signed the declaration to achieve “a thriving, resilient and healthy life for everyone in our cities, especially our most vulnerable communities”.

“I am proud to announce our firm commitment to collaborate with business and industry to transform construction in Oslo and cities around the world for the better,” says Oslo Governing Mayor Raymond Johansen. “The climate crisis is a global problem that requires global solutions. We need to unite businesses, industry and government on all levels to advance climate action. We must cut global emissions in half by 2030. The construction sector accounts for up to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it must play a key part if we are to reach this goal.”

As it is now, the construction industry is responsible for more than 23 per cent of the world’s GHG emissions and 30 per cent of global resource consumption. If the construction industry continues to take a “business as usual” approach, the world is on track for a global temperature increase of 3°C.

The declaration sets bold, ambitious targets to develop the net-zero emission buildings and infrastructure of the future by:

  • Reducing embodied emissions by at least 50 per cent for all new buildings and retrofits by 2030
  • Reducing embodied emissions by at least 50 per cent of all infrastructure projects by 2030
  • Procuring and when possible using only zero-emission construction machinery from 2025.

Placing the circular economy as its core, the declaration calls for innovation and collaboration across cities, businesses, regional, national and supranational government and industry.

The declaration commits cities to repurposing and retrofitting building stock to make better use of the buildings and infrastructure that already exist. Not only does this initiative have potential to create green sector employment, it reduces the need for raw building materials that have a high carbon footprint. Concrete production alone is responsible for 8 per cent of the world’s GHG emissions.

The mayors also commit to lead by example on clean construction, using their purchasing power and normalising the use of zero-emission construction machinery, and demanding transparency and accountability in their supply chains. This can be achieved by embedding clean construction policies into design and planning, procurement and contracting processes, as well as building codes.

As part of their commitment, the mayors promise to approve at least one net-zero emission flagship construction project by 2025 and to produce annual reports on their progress.

“The climate crisis affects every facet of our lives and every sector of our cities – that means we have to fundamentally change the way we operate across the board and revolutionise how we power our neighbourhoods, consume natural resources, construct buildings, commute, travel, and lead,” says Los Angeles Mayor and C40 Chair Eric Garcetti.

“With the Clean Construction Declaration, Los Angeles is doubling down on the commitments of our local Green New Deal – and all of the signatories are laying the foundation for sustainable communities, standing up the pillars of green jobs, and drawing the blueprint for a just, healthy, and equitable future.”

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