The latest IPCC report emphasises that we have to peak our CO2 emissions by 2025 at the latest to reach 1.5 degrees global warming, to follow those rational paths that are still open.
From Newsroom’s analysis: “Achieving 1.5 degrees would mean emissions growth must not only slow from the 1.3 percent a year it averaged during the 2010s but completely reverse. We must emit less in 2025 than we did the year before, and less in 2026 than in 2025. That pattern has to be maintained for decades, until we reach not just net zero emissions but net negative, removing more carbon from the atmosphere via natural and mechanical means than we release.”
This is a huge challenge that we cannot kick down the road any longer. Change must be at the level of systems. I’m hoping the Building for Climate Change programme can create this system-level change for the New Zealand building industry.
Why do I think buildings matter? The graph below shows that the building sector could (and must) contribute more than a quarter of the reductions needed globally. A quarter, that one sector alone.
The majority of this will be from technological adoption:
- energy-efficient building envelopes
- energy-efficient appliances (ECCA please step it up)
- shift to renewable energy generation
- systems change through planning and design of smaller living floor space
and a small amount from lifestyle change.
Much of the cost of the change will have a negative cost or a very small cost per ton of CO2 emissions saved. The change is not optional.