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EU agreement on 2050 climate neutrality can mean better buildings for all

Date

02 Dec 2019

Sections

Sustainable Dev.
Climate & Environment

An EU deal on the 2050 climate neutrality target must win support from EU leaders at a summit meeting in Brussels next week. Eurima, the European Insulation Manufacturers Association, today committed itself to developing a climate-neutral building stock by 2050, reducing emissions to net-zero across buildings' entire lifespan.

Representatives of 28 EU countries have a chance to support an agreement on EU climate neutrality by 2050 at an EU summit meeting on 12-13 December. If the agreement wins backing from heads of state and government, it should begin to steer clean investments over the next three decades. This should include emission cuts from buildings, the EU's biggest CO2 emitters.

“The building sector will be vital in the transition to climate-neutrality,” says Jan te Bos, Director-General of Eurima. “No other sector in the EU uses more energy or emits more carbon dioxide. And no other sector offers such a huge opportunity to make a difference.”

"Europe this month has a chance to show leadership and plan to become the first climate-neutral continent for the sake of our planet, our health and our prosperity," he added. "Such a decision would help steer investments in building renovations, thereby drastically cutting emissions, creating around 1 million jobs and delivering more affordable and energy-efficient housing."

Make building renovation a flagship of the European Green Deal

Most of the buildings that we will occupy in 2050 have already been built. The main challenge is to renovate these 210 million existing buildings to make them more energy- and carbon-efficient. Without the acceleration of deep renovations, the EU risks missing its climate objectives by up to 400 million tonnes of CO2, as well as leaving millions of people in energy poverty.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive sets a future-proof vision for a highly efficient and decarbonised building stock. All new buildings must be nearly zero energy by 2021. But scaling up the renovation of existing buildings still requires a strong market signal to mobilise investments.

"The renovation of buildings needs to become a flagship of the upcoming European Green Deal, mobilising action and finance to create better buildings for all," said Pascal Eveillard, President of Eurima. "This should include increasingly higher quality standards for e.g. public and rental buildings so that leaky schools and houses become something of the past."

Cut Emissions from Building Use and Building Materials
 
Buildings have a climate impact through their ‘operational’ and ‘embodied’ emissions. Operational emissions include emissions generated by heating, cooling and lighting a building. Embodied emissions are emissions from manufacturing materials and constructing buildings, as well as end-of-life disposal. Operational emissions account for around 85% of total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings.
 
"Buildings will need to be net-zero in total lifecycle carbon emissions by 2050 to achieve a climate-neutral Europe. This means setting criteria for both operational and embodied emissions in the transition to net-zero carbon buildings." said Pascal Eveillard.
 
A Climate Neutral Building Stock By 2050
 
Eurima’s full position paper on the fight against climate change can be seen here.The paper sets out detailed recommendations for supportive policies to:

  • Make the deep renovation of buildings a flagship initiative of the EU Green Deal.
  • Set criteria for both operational and embodied emissions in the transition to net-zero carbon buildings.
  • Ensure that the carbon price is sufficiently high to incentivize industry decarbonisation, while avoiding carbon leakage.
  • Put energy efficiency first and make energy efficiency mandatory for industry.
  • Ensure access to secure and affordable decarbonised energy.
  • Establish a circular economy action plan for the construction sector.
  • Make innovation funding available.

The position paper will be followed by a more detailed roadmap on how to realise climate-neutrality in the sector in the course of 2020.

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