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More C40 Cities commit to clean construction

Mayors of Oslo, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Budapest pledge to halve emissions from all construction activities in their cities by 2030

|Nov 25|magazine10 min read

The mayors of Oslo, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Budapest have pledged to halve emissions from all construction activities in their cities by 2030, according to the C40 Cities group

The group says that through the targets in C40’s Clean Construction Declaration, the mayors pledge to revolutionise the global construction industry, shifting it towards a greener, more sustainable future; and to achieve "a thriving, resilient and healthy life for everyone in our cities, especially our most vulnerable communities."

In its current form, the construction industry is responsible for more than 23 percent of the world’s GHG emissions, and 30 percent of global resource consumption. If the industry continues to take a business as usual approach, the world is on track for a global temperature increase of 3°C, the statement warns.

Therefore, the C40 Cities 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% for all new buildings and retrofits by 2030 
  • Reducing embodied emissions by at least 50% of all infrastructure projects by 2030
  • Procuring and when possible using only zero emission construction machinery from 2025

The C40 Cities Group is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable, and sustainable action on climate change, the statement says.

Recognising that cities cannot tackle the climate crisis alone, the Declaration places the circular economy as its core and 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 currently exist, which also has huge potential to create new green jobs. Retrofitting reduces the need for raw building materials that have a high carbon footprint — concrete production alone is responsible for eight percent of the world’s GHG emissions.

Raymond Johansen, governing mayor of Oslo, said the climate crisis is a global problem requiring 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." 

He was confident that the C40 Clean Construction Declaration will contribute in shifting the construction market globally. "Together, we can remove fossil fuels and reduce emissions from construction sites altogether. This will make them safer, quieter, cleaner places to work, and will ensure that the air in our cities is cleaner and healthier to breathe. We challenge the Minister of the Environment to act and ask cities worldwide to join us”.

The statement adds that 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. They aim to achieve this by embedding clean construction policies into design and planning, procurement and contracting processes, as well as building codes. 

"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 revolutionize how we power our neighbourhoods, consume natural resources, construct buildings, commute, travel, and lead," says Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor and C40 chair. 

By signing the Declaration, mayors promise to approve at least one net-zero emission flagship construction project by 2025 and to produce annual reports on their progress. The shared declaration recognises the need for radical change in how cities approach construction. 

Clean construction principles can deliver a green and just recovery from the COVID-19 crisis; respond to the pressing issue of the climate crisis; improve air quality; and reduce inequality in the world’s cities. 

Budapest, for all its beauty and heritage, has a large building stock with poor energy performance and high GHG emissions, which have been exacerbated by rising traffic levels. 

By declaring "a climate emergency" as one of its first measures after taking office a year ago, the Municipality of Budapest is committed to clean construction methods.

Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities, said: "Not only is a green recovery the only path to avoiding climate breakdown, but we’ll create a third more jobs if stimulus funding is targeted at green, rather than polluting sectors."

C40 Cities statement
Construction Global magazine