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COP26 Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day, 11 November 2021

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Thursday was the last full, official day of the COP26 and events focused on advancing action in cities and communities of all types to create pathways to net zero emissions. It is likely that yesterday [11 November 2021] will be the last day for sector-specific announcements.

COP26 General

Key announcements:

  • What to expect in the final days of COP26

    As the COP26 climate summit enters its last days, negotiators from nearly 200 countries are working round the clock to try to agree on the final texts that will be published at the end of the two-week conference.

    Yesterday [11 November 2021], COP26 President Alok Sharma said to expect “near-final” draft documents on all elements of negotiations overnight.

    A few items that still require attention are the need to iron out the “rule book” including Article 6, a decision on whether countries should be required to set earlier deadlines for climate targets and whether nations should return with updated pledges by the end of 2022 on how they are going to keep ‘1.5 alive’, which is proving highly controversial.

    At the end of the summit, several texts will be published that have been agreed on by all parties.

Cities, Regions and Built Environment

Key announcements and pledges:

  • UK to support developing cities and regions transition to net zero by 2050

    Yesterday [11 November 2021], the UK government launched the new Urban Climate Action programme (UCAP).

    The UCAP will be backed by £27.5 million in funding from the UK Government.

    The purpose of the UCAP is to support cities and regions in developing countries that are most impacted by climate change. This means providing support across Africa, Asia and Latin America on their transition to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

    It is foreseen that the UCAP will involve preparing low-carbon infrastructure projects such as developing low-emission public transport systems, renewable energy generation, sustainable waste management, new climate-smart buildings codes and climate risk planning.

  • UK to provide £3.9 billion in funding to reduce emissions from the built sector

    Heating for homes and workspaces makes up almost a third of all UK carbon emissions.

    The UK Government has set out proposed actions to reduce emissions from the built environment sector in the recently published heat and buildings strategy and net zero strategy: build back greener.

    The aim is to deploy low-carbon technology to help decarbonise homes, workplaces and public spaces.

    To address the emission from the built environment the UK Government is investing £3.9 billion through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, Boiler Upgrade Scheme and Heat Network Transformation Programme.

  • New tool for businesses in built environment sector to measure and cut carbon emissions

    The UK Green Building Council has revealed its ‘Whole Life Carbon Roadmap’.

    This is a tool to help businesses across the built environment sector measure and cut carbon from materials, processes, operation and demolition.

    Of particular interest will be the details for measuring, reporting and reducing embodied carbon.

    The aim is to help businesses reach net zero emissions by 2050.

  • Technology that could turn buildings into climate-fighting tools

    Yesterday [11 November 2021], the design firm SOM presented a proposal called ‘Urban Sequoia’ at COP26.

    The proposal envisions buildings that can capture more carbon than they emit – buildings that are actually net-negative.

    The Urban Sequoia vision is still a long way off of materialising, however, there is an opportunity for a company like SOM to push the conversation.


  • Resistance to COP26 push to end the use of coal

    China and India, two countries that contribute the largest emissions from fossil fuels are still refusing to pledge a phase out of coal as a source of energy.

    China says the concern is energy security whilst India are seeking more financial support from developed countries before it makes stronger climate commitments.

  • US is 101st country to join International Solar Alliance

    The UK and Indian Governments jointly launched the ‘Green Grids Initiative One Sun One World One Grid’ during COP26.

    The US has now joined the steering committee of the initiative which comprises of Australia, France, UK, and India.

    Further details on this initiative are in the Adoption, Loss and Damage Day briefing.

  • France and Wales sign on to cut oil and gas production

    Denmark and Costa Rica together created the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) which proposes to set a date to end fossil fuel production.

    As of yesterday [11 November 2021] the BOGA now has 11 signatories including France, Wales, Sweden, Ireland, Greenland, Quebec, Portugal, California and New Zealand.

    Many have questioned why governments which are not oil and gas producers have joined and why the largest producers, such as the US, Russia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Norway and the UK did not join.

    Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland are ‘considering joining’ BOGA however Boris Johnson has said that the UK “would see” what BOGA has planned before making a decision on whether to join.

Mukhtiar Tanda comments: "Whilst there are significant challenges in retrofitting our urban environments to address the net zero agenda, these announcements represent an exciting positive step forward towards achieving that ultimate goal.

This may in some instances involve profound changes to the way we’ve been accustomed to doing things in the past. We should therefore also treat this as a genuine opportunity to rethink how our urban spaces of the future should look and operate to address the changes, for example, in working patterns and retail trends that have been accelerated by COVID 19 rather than simply replicating the delivery models of old."