Environmental Groups Urge Action on Buildings and Cities at U.N. Climate Summit

CANCUN, MEXICO—As delegates work to advance a new global climate change pact at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change conference, 40 environmental and business organizations joined forces to urge governments to prioritize reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment and increase investment in this sector.

Partners in a new broad-based international action network called the Global Leadership in Our Built Environment (GLOBE) Alliance, led in partnership by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) together with the World Green Building Council and its members, environmental organizations, and businesses, are working together around the world to advocate for sustainable building and infrastructure practices as a key strategy for combating climate change.  

“While diplomats try to hammer out a new agreement on climate, the world is not stopping its economic development. China is projected to build the equivalent of 10 New York Cities over the next decade,” says Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council, a leading organizer of the GLOBE Alliance. “We must immediately begin putting the policies and financial measures in place to decouple economic growth from its impacts on the climate and the environment, in both developing and developed nations.”

“We’re asking parties to make sure that building efficiency measures, sustainable urban development and transport strategies in the programs are fundamental platform being negotiated under the Framework Convention—and we’re calling on governments to commence rigorous sustainability and investment plans for these sectors when they return home from Cancun,” continues Henley.

The built environment is the sector with the single greatest opportunity for reducing CO2 emissions worldwide, at the lowest cost.  But without action, global emissions from buildings—which account for over a third of total greenhouse gas pollution—are projected to double by 2030. Current Kyoto-era programs such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) have failed to take on infrastructure and buildings, leaving little financial flow to developing countries to address the giant polluters and learn to build more efficiently.

The GLOBE Alliance called on the international community to invest in the built environment as a leading strategy for reducing emissions by ensuring sustainable building, transport and infrastructure activities are recognized as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and to reform the CDM to accelerate investment, among other principles.

About The GLOBE Alliance

The GLOBE Alliance is an international partnership of green building councils, environmental organizations and businesses that work around the world to educate, raise awareness and generate support from global policymakers, financial institutions and U.N. bodies for cost-effective investment in sustainable building practices. The GLOBE Alliance is committed to fostering leadership to bring to scale the low cost, often profitable benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable design, construction and operations of our built environment. The Alliance pushes for policies and measures that support technical, regulatory and financial resources for green communities and efficient buildings in developed and developing countries – which according to scientists, could reduce CO2 emissions in those sectors by at least 30 percent in the short-term.