Around 1 in 10 tonnes of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are so-called “embodied carbon” emissions, related to the production and use of construction materials. They total 64 million tonnes CO2e per year, more than the country’s aviation and shipping emissions combined.
Despite their magnitude, embodied carbon emissions are unregulated in the UK. Similar legislation has already been implemented in several European Countries, the state of California, and is in the latter stages of debate for cross-EU introduction – all demonstrating the feasibility for the UK to do the same.
Several construction industry initiatives have been launched in recent years, calling on the government to move to reduce embodied carbon emissions in construction. Collectively, these initiatives are supported by hundreds of businesses, including a number of the largest UK housebuilders, developers, contractors and financial institutions. These organisations see such regulation as key to bringing consistency and accelerated action in this area – and many of their statements of support are shown at www.part-z.uk/industry-support
These UK industry initiatives have all called for reforms to regulation, though dates and details have varied as collective industry knowledge around embodied carbon has evolved. Now, at the start of 2024, a general election year, these initiatives are joining together to call on the next government with one voice.
The undersigned groups call on party leaders to make the following manifesto commitments:
• “Our government will move to reduce embodied carbon emissions in building construction within two years of taking office.”
• Within six months of taking office: 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 of such projects, with a view to future revision and tightening as required.
For more information, contact: Will Arnold, Head of Climate Action, The Institution of Structural Engineers, [email protected]