A global report by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that despite an increase in investment and worldwide success in lowering the energy intensity of buildings, the sector’s total energy consumption and CO2 emissions increased in 2021 above pre-pandemic levels.
The demand for energy by buildings increased by around 4 percent from 2020—the largest increase in the last 10 years. CO2 emissions from buildings operations have reached a record high of around 10 gigatons of CO2, around a 5 percent increase from 2020, and 2 percent higher than the earlier recorded peak in 2019.
Further, this means the buildings and construction sector is off the decarbonization path, envisaged for the year 2050 and implies that the gap between the actual climate performance of the sector and the decarbonization pathway is widening.
Global energy price fluctuations and increasing interest rates are likely to hamper investment in building decarbonization by governments, households, and businesses.
The findings are part of the Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction (Buildings-GSR), a publication of the UNEP-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC).