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Political party leaders urged to make manifesto commitments for embodied carbon regulation in the UK

Posted: 1st February 2024

UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Construction Industry Council (CIC), Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), UK Architects Declare, RIBA, RICS, Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), and Part Z and have joined forces to send a consistent message to UK political party leaders about the urgent need for regulation of embodied carbon emissions in construction.

They assert that this is necessary as buildings and construction form a substantial part of UK carbon emissions, which are a main driver of climate change. UK policy has stalled, and urgent action is needed.

The group of experts has issued a paper to political leaders with a key ask: to include in their manifestoes a commitment to move to reduce embodied carbon emissions in construction within two years of starting government.

Additionally, the experts list specific steps for action:

  • In 2024: Policy signalled confirming 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 1000m2 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.

The group says these actions are essential as around 1 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.

Professor Stephen Hodder MBE, CIC Climate Change Committee Chair, says: “Over the years, numerous construction industry initiatives have called for government action in reducing the construction industry’s embodied carbon emissions. CIC welcome the collaboration with this expert group to pull these proposals together, uniting with one voice for change, encouraging the sector to do better in the fight against climate change.