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At COP27, Building Emissions Loom Larger

Cleaning up the carbon-intensive construction industry and reducing energy consumption in buildings have emerged as major topics at the UN climate summit.

Skyscrapers being built outside Lagos, Nigeria, in 2019. As urbanization accelerates across Africa, carbon emissions from new construction represent a a growing concern.

Skyscrapers being built outside Lagos, Nigeria, in 2019. As urbanization accelerates across Africa, carbon emissions from new construction represent a a growing concern.

Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

The built environment has always played a major role in the climate crisis — a much-shared stat suggests that roughly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to constructing and maintaining buildings. But the building sector hasn’t commanded a commensurate amount of attention at international climate conclaves.

At COP27 — the UN climate change conference now being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — that’s starting to change: More than 140 events across the nearly two-week gathering focus on real estate and construction.