Industry Leaders Demand New UK Political Commitment on Embodied Carbon Regulation
Leading experts from the construction and built environment sectors, encompassing 11 esteemed organisations, have joined forces to urge the leaders of the UK’s political parties to integrate commitments within their manifestoes to regulate embodied carbon regulation emissions throughout the UK.
This alliance, comprising the 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, is conveying a harmonised message on the paramount importance of embodied carbon regulation in the construction industry.
The impetus for this call to action is the recognition that the construction sector is a significant contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions, a primary driver of global climate change. The experts point out the stagnation in UK policies concerning this issue and emphasise the pressing need for legislative intervention.
They have submitted a comprehensive proposal to political leaders, advocating for the inclusion of explicit commitments in their party manifestoes to diminish embodied carbon emissions in construction projects within two years of assuming power. Their strategy suggests a staged approach:
- In 2024: Announcement of policy details, confirming the timeline and interventions.
- By 2026: Implementation of mandatory measurement and reporting of whole-life carbon emissions for all significant construction projects, defined as those with a gross internal area exceeding 1000m^2 or creating more than 10 dwellings.
- By 2028: Establishment of legal maximums for upfront embodied carbon emissions for such projects, with provisions for future adjustments and stricter regulations.
The specialists argue that these steps are essential, as roughly one in every ten tonnes of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions is accounted for by “embodied carbon” – emissions linked to the production and usage of construction materials. This substantial portion of the UK’s carbon footprint highlights the critical nature of adopting these proposed policies.
Moreover, they observe that their recommendations would augment the carbon pricing mechanism unveiled by the government in 2023, scheduled for implementation in 2027. This would be in conjunction with current initiatives that promote the utilisation of lower-carbon cement and steel, further advancing the UK’s strategy to mitigate its environmental impact.
The collective’s initiative represents a groundbreaking effort to propel the UK towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future. By advocating for the regulation of embodied carbon, these organisations are not only addressing a crucial gap in current environmental policy but also setting a precedent for global action against climate change.
Their proposal underscores the interconnectedness of construction practices and environmental sustainability, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to carbon reduction. The phased implementation plan ensures a pragmatic yet ambitious roadmap towards significant emission reductions, balancing the urgency of climate action with the practicalities of industry adaptation.
This collaborative call to action signals a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change, emphasising the role of policy in steering the construction industry towards more sustainable practices. It reflects a collective acknowledgment of the critical role that the built environment plays in achieving carbon neutrality and the necessity for immediate, concerted efforts to address this challenge.
As the UK stands at the forefront of this initiative, the impact of these proposed policies extends beyond national borders, offering a model for international cooperation and innovation in the battle against global warming. The commitment of these leading organisations to advocate for change not only demonstrates their dedication to environmental stewardship but also underscores the collective responsibility of industries, governments, and individuals to partake in meaningful climate action.