G20 countries short on reducing emissions

By Catrin Jones01 November 2022

A study has found that some of the world’s biggest nations are moving too slowly to reach the 2050 net zero targets signed under the Paris Agreement.

Global Retrofit Index cover (Photo: 3Keel)

The Global Retrofit Index assesses the progress G20 countries are making to reduce emissions from existing buildings. It is said that in developed economies 80% of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built, meaning that policymakers have to get to grips with the challenge of making the existing global building stock fit for the future.

The study, conducted by UK-based sustainability consultancy 3Keel for the global insulation manufacturer Kingspan, has discovered that less than 1% of existing buildings in major economies are being given the necessary retrofitting upgrade — through energy efficiency renovations and refurbishments — each year. This means that they are well below the International Energy Agency (IEA) target of 2.5% rate by 2030.

Michael Lord, Principal Consultant at 3Keel LLP, said, “Our findings clearly show that we urgently need to significantly increase the retrofit rate globally and ambitious government action will be vital to support the building and construction sector.

“To achieve the level of reduction needed, the energy performance of existing building stock will need to be significantly improved and deep energy retrofits are needed to achieve the deep cut in emissions we must make. In countries with older building stocks, the need for retrofits will be even greater.”

The study concludes that while many G20 countries have achieved some reduction in building-related emissions, they are all failing to do so at the speed and scale required to achieve the 2050 net zero goals agreed upon at COP 21. To get back on track, the study suggests that the sector’s energy intensity must drop five times quicker over the next decade which will mean achieving a 50% cut in direct emissions and a 60% cut in indirect emissions by 2030.

Click here to view the full Global Retrofit Index report.

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