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London signs up to 2050 net-zero carbon buildings pledge

Commitments to rethink planning and construction of new and old buildings forms part of wider push by a range of major cities to realise the key commitments of the Paris Agreement

London is one of 19 cities to formally have committed to go “net-zero carbon” by 2050, reflecting a a wider focus in the capital to rethink infrastructure and building design.

Net-Zero is a term used to describe structures such as buildings that are extremely energy efficient, while depending on renewable energy sources to fulfil their energy needs. London’s decision to commit to these standards in its buildings and wider environments over the next three decades is intended to ensure that regulations and planning for both new and existing buildings can meet the highest aims of the Paris Agreement.

London has joined Copenhagen, LA, Montreal, New York City, Paris, San Jose, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo and Tshwane among others in signing up to the commitments.

Authorities in the city will be required to work with the UK government and other regional authorities in order to release the main aims of the net-zero pledge. This will be particularly important for buildings that London authorities do not have direct control over.

The commitment has been agreed as part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment for Businesses, Cities, States and Regions and has been unveiled before next month’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The summit will bring together stakeholders and officials from all other the world to look at means of realising the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the strategy built on a range of ambitious environmental commitments intended to address key environmental, health and economic challenges facing the capital.

He said, “This includes expanding my existing standard of zero carbon new homes to apply to all new buildings in 2019. We want to make London a zero-carbon city by 2050 and we’re working hard to ensure its buildings are energy efficient and supplied with clean energy sources. I look forward to collaborating with other cities on our shared vision of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Key commitments set out within the net-zero pledge will include making each signatory create a road map ensure all buildings will meet the commitments. Participating cities will also need to create support programmes and incentives to ensure standards are met, as well as proving annual reports on progress, while evaluating the feasibility of measuring emissions beyond operational carbon. This could include a focus on refrigerant.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said municipal leaders around the world recognized a need to ensure all buildings, whether old or new, were part of a more sustainable system.

She said, “With this commitment cities are getting the job done, concretely delivering on the Paris Agreement and building better cities for generations to come. One more time, the future is taking place in cities.”

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