Aligning carbon targets for construction with (inter)national climate change mitigation commitments

CIEMAP researcher Jannik Giesekam has published a new article in a Special Issue of Energy and Buildings. The Special Issue is titled Embodied Energy and Carbon Efficiency: The Next Major Step Towards Zero-Impact Buildings. The paper presents a review of the carbon reduction targets set by the largest UK construction firms and discusses the challenges in aligning these with sectoral and national carbon reduction commitments. This follows on from prior CIEMAP work demonstrating the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from construction activity.


In the face of a changing climate, a growing number of construction firms are adopting carbon reduction targets on individual projects and across their portfolios. In the wake of the Paris Agreement, some firms are seeking a means of aligning their targets with sectoral, national and international mitigation commitments. There are numerous ways by which such an alignment can be achieved, each requiring different assumptions. Using data from the UK construction industry, this paper reviews current company commitments and progress in carbon mitigation; analyses the unique challenges in aligning construction targets, and presents a series of possible sectoral decarbonisation trajectories. The results highlight the disparity between current company targets and the range of possible trajectories. It is clear that a cross-industry dialogue is urgently required to establish an appropriate response that delivers both a widely-accepted target trajectory and a plan for its delivery. This paper is intended to stimulate and support this necessary debate by illustrating the impact of different methodological assumptions and highlighting the critical features of an appropriate response.

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