Positive steps towards carbon positive

16 Nov 2016


Australia’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change is perfect timing, as international leaders gather for the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech this week.

“Almost a year from the Paris conference, it is clear the agreement was a watershed, a turning point,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.

Australia joins more than 100 nations in “the adoption of a comprehensive strategy [which] has galvanised the international community and spurred on global action,” Turnbull announced.

While this year’s meeting is more subdued than previous years, it’s because the Paris Agreement came into full force on 4 November. COP21 was focused on garnering global support. COP22 is all about implementation.

The federal government’s target to reduce 2005-level emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 is now a global commitment – one which the Prime Minister has said “we look forward to actively and fully implementing.”

However, this target will not be enough to prevent global temperatures rising more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial times, let alone the 1.5 degree target set in the Paris Agreement.

Australia must achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier. The built environment has a huge role to play in getting us there, and our industry is ready to lead.

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council’s Low Carbon, High Performance report, released earlier this year, underscores the opportunity. We can eliminate emissions from our buildings entirely by 2050, we can deliver healthier, more productive cities and we can save $20 billion using technologies that exist today.

With a new strategic plan, the Green Building Council of Australia is also in implementation mode.

We have set four new goals, the first of which is to drive a carbon positive industry.

Among our many tasks, we are working hard over the next 12 months to develop a clear roadmap to help the industry meet the 1.5°C target set in the Paris Agreement. We will work with governments to remove barriers and raise standards. And we will develop new products to move the entire market towards a carbon positive economy.

It can sometimes feel like our industry is buffeted by global politics and economic forces outside our control. And while we cannot influence the US election or the economy in China, we can continue our world-leading stance on sustainability.