Decarbonization of the transport and buildings sectors through collaboration

Reading time: 4 minutes
3 December 2015

As COP21 enters its fourth day, the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) focuses on solutions to reduce emissions in the transport and building sectors, two significant and rising sources of GHGs.


In 2010, the transport sector produced 7.0 Gt CO2e of direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – close to a quarter of total energy-related CO2 emissions. Transport (particularly freight) is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions.

The challenge is great: today, only 3% of transportation fuels are low carbon. According to the International Energy Agency, 10% of fuels must be low-carbon by 2030 to stay below 2°C and ensure economic growth. Achieving the necessary investment in and deployment of technologies will require a joint effort between business and government at all levels.


Numerous low carbon fuel technologies are under development and once integrated with other sectors—such as agriculture, forestry, waste, chemicals and biotechnology – they will generate significant new growth opportunities

Fortunately, the economic opportunity is equally enticing.

Business is beginning to seize that opportunity. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) work on low-carbon transport fuels and freight provides an excellent example.

Solutions identified include improving the accessibility of cutting edge fleet optimisation tools to small and medium sized enterprises, co-optimisation of multiple fleet movements through a common ICT platform and sharing assets like distribution centers and trucks.

Further, eleven leading companies have joined forces for the first time to publish a comprehensive guide to the sustainable fuel technologies available today that can drive down emissions throughout the sector.

The task now is to rapidly develop, implement and scale these low carbon solutions globally.


In 2010, the world’s buildings accounted for 32% of global final energy use and 19% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Under business-as-usual projections, energy use in buildings globally could more than double by 2050. However, the widespread implementation of best practices and technologies could see building energy use stabilise or even fall by 2050.

In Europe, buildings represent 40% of energy consumption and are a major element of the energy transition, requiring hundreds of billions of euros of investment. The key is to develop financial tools that value energy savings, such as ramping up energy efficiency contracts. These long-term financial tools for public buildings already exist in the ‘Juncker Plan’, the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe, an ambitious infrastructure investment programme. It aims at unlocking public and private investments in the “real economy” of at least €315 billion over a three year fiscal period.

Investing €120bn over three years in public buildings would reduce their energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 10-15%

Energy renovations in public buildings on this scale would help to attain several goals, including significant emissions reductions. According to economic estimates, investing €120bn over three years in public buildings would reduce their energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 10-15%.

Residential housing is somewhat different. A dramatic reduction in CO2 emissions in this sector will predominantly depend on
the energy-efficiency renovation of existing housing. There are many barriers, however, to implementing such an initiative, including the intrinsically low return on investment, too few trained builders, and too little capital available for the buildings that are eligible for renovation.

The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction wants to reduce building emissions by bringing together partners from across the world. While climate change is a global phenomenon, national and local action is key and many countries are already pledging to take action through their intended nationally determined contributions.

The building and transportation sectors are cutting emissions by collaborating and developing the innovative policies and products essential to replacing today’s technology with tomorrow’s solution.

Article originally published on The Bottom Line.

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