Urban areas are responsible for two-thirds of greenhouse-gas emissions. Cities thus have a major role to play in enabling countries to achieve emissions-reduction targets and to meet the climate-change obligations of their Paris Agreement pledges.

Some 30 cities, including London, Sydney, New York and Berlin are now reducing their carbon emissions from peak levels. All have seen at least a 10 per cent fall since 2014 despite growing populations.

These 30 conurbations represent about one-third of the membership of C40, a worldwide network of megacities that encourages cities to collaborate, share knowledge and drive sustainable action on climate change. C40 held a summit in Denmark in October at which representatives of cities, universities and businesses discussed city-level targets and produced a report on the role of buildings in achieving these objectives.

We think urban climate policy will increasingly look to deliver cleaner buildings and transport. Buildings generate emissions throughout their lifecycle, from resource extraction through construction and utilisation to decommissioning or recycling.

Globally, buildings contribute 27 per cent of global emissions during occupancy, directly by burning fossil fuels and indirectly through the use of electricity generated from such fuels. That’s more than the CO2 emissions from transport or the fossil fuels burned by industry.

We believe improvements can be made to the emissions profiles at every stage of a building’s lifecycle. Efficient insulation, glazing, roofing and appliances can decrease energy use. In the construction phase, cement is a major emitter, leading to up to 7 per cent of global emissions.

Enabling greener buildings throughout their lifecycle will, in our opinion, help cities to play a leading role in reducing emissions and assist countries in meeting broader climate ambitions.

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