The clock is ticking on efforts to reform the buildings and construction sector’s energy performance and keep the Paris Agreement on track, new United Nations-backed research revealed on Tuesday.
The Global Status Report 2017, from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction – first launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and France at the 21st Climate Change Conference – finds that the sector continues to grow, with the energy intensity per square meter of buildings needing to improve 30 per cent by 2030.
“Over the next 40 years, the world is expected to build 230 billion square metres in new construction – adding the equivalent of Paris to the planet every single week,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a side event of the One Planet Summit in Paris.
“This rapid growth is not without consequences,” he warned.
In 2016, an estimated 235 billion square metres (m2) of total floor area was reached. Over the next 40 years, an additional 230 billion m2 buildings will be constructed – the equivalent of adding the floor area of Japan to the planet every year to 2060.
When upstream power generation is included, buildings and construction account for 39 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions.
According to the IAEA-prepared, UNEP-coordinated report, the clock is ticking in part because more than half of building constructions expected by 2060 will be done in the next 20 years – two-thirds in countries that lack mandatory building energy codes.
However, the report highlights many opportunities to deploy energy-efficient and low-carbon solutions, and points to a number of global examples showing how the goals can be met with clear and concerted efforts.
To date, Paris Agreement pledges have fallen short – with CO2 emissions from buildings and construction having risen by nearly one per cent annually between 2010 and 2016, releasing 76 gigatonnes of Carbon Dioxide in cumulative emissions.
“Ambitious action is needed without delay to avoid locking in long-lived, inefficient buildings assets for decades to come,” he stressed.
Buildings with near-zero energy, zero-emissions need to become the global construction standard within the next decade for two per cent energy performance improvements to 2030, according to the report.
The rate of building energy renovations also needs to improve three per cent in the coming decade, particularly important in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, where roughly 65 per cent of the total expected 2060 buildings stock is already built today.
“Similar to many areas linked to the Paris Agreement, the building sector is seeing some progress in cutting its emissions, but it is too little, too slowly,” underscored Erik Solheim, UNEP Executive Director.
An energy savings potential from improved building envelope performance can be huge. Globally, high-performance construction and deep energy renovations of existing building envelopes represent a savings potential of more than all the final energy consumed by the G20 countries in 2015.
“Realizing the potential of the buildings and construction sector needs all hands-on deck – in particular to address rapid growth in inefficient and carbon-intensive building investments,” said Mr. Solheim.
UN sounds alarm as Venezuelan refugees and migrants passes three million mark
The number of refugees and migrants who have left Venezuela worldwide has now reached three million, the two main United Nations agencies advocating for them announced on Thursday, flagging the need to increase support for the countries which are hosting large numbers of displaced Venezuelans.
According to the UN office for humanitarian coordination (OCHA), most of the 3 million are currently hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, accounting for about 2.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Colombia has the highest number with over one million, followed by Peru with half a million, Ecuador with some 220,000, and Argentina with 130,000.
In addition to South American countries, countries in Central America and the Caribbean also recorded increasing arrivals of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Panama, for example, is now hosting 94,000 Venezuelans.
Commending these countries’ “open-door policy,” Eduardo Stein, who heads the joint effort on behalf of refugee agency UNHCR and migration agency IOM for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, noted however that “their reception capacity is severely strained,” and is “requiring a more robust and immediate response from the international community if this generosity and solidarity are to continue.”
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, noted during a recent visit to Peru, that every Venezuelan she had met described the situation in their country as “desperate,” adding that she heard “stories of people dying because of a lack of medical care and medicine… and tragic accounts of violence and persecution”.
With these rising numbers of families fleeing Venezuela, their basic needs have increased, along with the communities hosting them.
Governments in the region are leading the humanitarian response and working to coordinate efforts based on the Quito Declaration for example, adopted in September and which has been an important step towards a regional approach to scale up the response and harmonize policies.
To support this response, the UN and its partners have appealed for US$220 million to address the needs of 406,000 people across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $17.2 million earlier this year.
In addition, a humanitarian regional response plan is underway to be launched in December, with a focus on four areas: direct emergency assistance, protection, socio-economic and cultural integration and capacity-building for governments of receiving countries.
The governments from the region are scheduled to meet again in Quito on 22 and 23 November to continue moving the regional process further.
Globalization Cannot Be Stopped – but It Can and Should Be Better
Global GDP has doubled since 1990, but further global integration, while inevitable, must be accompanied by structural reforms that enable greater international cooperation as well as policies that support more inclusive, sustainable societies. This was the finding from the opening plenary of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils which began today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The purpose of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils is to convene the world’s best network of experts to identify new ideas and models that can be applied to critical global challenges. In his opening remarks, Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, told participants: “Globalization cannot be stopped, but it can be improved. It should be more inclusive, sustainable and job creating. We need to stop seeing trade as a weapon but instead see it as a strong, positive force for inclusive, poverty-eradicating growth.”
“Globalization’s future is no longer about physical trade. It is about knowledge, information and technology. Digital trade already accounts for 12% of international trade, and data flows are predicted to increase another fivefold by 2022. The result will inevitably be not less globalization but more, different, globalization,” he continued.
His Excellency Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future of the United Arab Emirates, in his opening address told participants: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, shape it and implement it. In today’s world, governments cannot create the future singularly; it is important to involve everyone from the private sector to youth, international partners and others in creating policies.”
On the power of the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to bring about a more inclusive and sustainable future, Al Gergawi said: “The collective mind provided by technology is much smarter than the individual mind. The wisdom of the crowd is a common saying; however, this saying is multiplied a thousand times when talking about and using technology.”
In a special televised session to mark the beginning of the meeting, Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, told participants that any global architecture in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution needed to be shaped by greater cooperation between nations. “In my 30 years as a diplomat I see less and less dialogue. Even when leaders speak these days there are more monologues and less willingness to accept that they do not own the truth. What is needed is a platform where leaders can discuss openly and honestly where our planet is heading.”
Bali Conference discusses unlocking Industry 4.0 for Asia and the Pacific countries
Organized by the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the first Regional Conference on Industrial Development opened today, with a focus on the evolving concept of Industry 4.0 and its impact on developing countries. Titled “Unlocking the Potential of Industry 4.0 for Developing Countries”, the Conference encouraged knowledge sharing to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0, by promoting the sharing of good practices and lesson learned, and by identifying good policies and strategies. This will contribute to the implementation of Industry 4.0 and will strengthen the regional coordination within Asia and the Pacific.
On the sidelines of the Conference, Indonesian Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartanto and UNIDO Director General LI Yong signed the revised Country Programme, which reaffirmed the partnership commitment between the Government of Indonesia and UNIDO and which will help increase efficiency, effectiveness and funding possibilities. The revised Country Programme highlights the priorities of the Government, with the updated portfolio of ongoing and pipeline projects focusing, inter alia, on poverty alleviation, creative industries, innovation, quality standards, green industrial policy, water stewardship and Industry 4.0.
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