The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is among 11 built environment organisations demanding party leaders make manifesto commitments for embodied carbon regulations in the UK.
Ahead of the general election this year, experts have issued a policy position paper seeking a commitment to reducing embodied carbon emissions in construction within two years of starting government.
They say UK policy in this area has stalled and urgent action is needed.
The joint call includes the following action steps:
- Within six months of taking office: policy signalled to confirm the dates and interventions below.
- By 2026: mandate the measurement and reporting of whole-life carbon emissions for all projects with a gross internal area of more than 1,000 sq m, or that create more than 10 dwellings.
- By 2028: introduce legal limits on the upfront embodied carbon emissions [those emissions due to the use of materials in the initial construction] of such projects, with a view to future revision and tightening as required.
One voice for change
The group says these actions are essential as around one in 10 tonnes of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are embodied carbon emissions. These relate to the production and use of construction materials, which account for a substantial part of the UK’s overall carbon emissions.
“These equate to 64 million tonnes CO2e per year, more than the country’s aviation and shipping emissions combined,” said Will Arnold, head of climate action at the Institution of Structural Engineers. “Despite their magnitude, embodied carbon emissions remain unregulated in the UK.”
Amanda Williams, CIOB’s head of environmental sustainability, added: “There have been numerous industry initiatives over recent years, calling for government action to reduce the construction industry’s embodied carbon emissions. We now join forces as an expert group to pull these proposals together, uniting with one voice for change and asking government to ensure the UK keeps pace with those who are currently leading this agenda.”
The authors note that these policy recommendations would be complementary to the carbon pricing mechanism, announced by the government in 2023 and which is due to be introduced in 2027, as well as to existing UK initiatives that incentivise the use of lower-carbon cement and steel.
The full list of organisations behind the joint call is: UK Green Building Council; Institution of Structural Engineers; Institution of Civil Engineers; CIOB; Construction Industry Council; Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers; UK Architects Declare; RIBA; RICS; Association for Consultancy and Engineering; and Part Z.
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