After two long weeks of negotiations, talks and global promises, COP28 draws to a close, with an agreement in place for the first time in COP history to transition away from fossil fuels within the next decade.

It could be argued that this agreement is as good as it was going to get given the first deal was met with strong criticism from global leaders for not going far enough. Particularly following comments made by Ahmed al Jaber, COP28 President and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, claiming there is “no science” indicating that a phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to restrict global warming to 1.5°C.

Whilst we didn’t walk away with a binding agreement to eliminate fossil fuels, it is encouraging to see a global move towards renewable energy solutions to tackle net zero.

Reaction by many has been clear that this COP marked one of the biggest and most well-attended yet bringing together nearly 90,000 policy makers, world leaders, business decision makers, scientists and specialists. The global stocktake on the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5oC has shone a light on lack of progress and COP presented an opportunity for countries to review their plans for reducing emissions to get back on track.

This year, we noted more dialogue on the built environment and construction sector with Day 6 dedicated to: ‘Multilevel Action Urbanisation, Built Environment and Transport,’ which marks a significant shift and an increased awareness of impact of the industry.

Key points from this year’s COP include:

  • An agreement on a $700m loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change. The fund will support developing nations affected by ever-increasing extreme weather events such as drought, floods, and rising seas.
  • 43% emissions cut by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to 2019 levels. It implies a major increase in targets and policies when countries submit new commitments in 2025
  • Global renewable energy to be tripled and the rate of energy efficiency improvements doubled by 2030
  • Fifty oil and gas companies have pledged to reach near zero methane emissions by 2030 and submit plans to meet those targets by 2025.
  • 130+ countries have signed a declaration to include emissions from agriculture in national climate change plans
  • Over1,000 cities are committing to clear transparent and science aligned net zero targets
  • Transitioning away from fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050
  • The UK to set out £39 million to support the Just Transitions for Water Security programme, to help countries manage water resources responsibly for the future

It is vital that the industry continues to deploy more energy efficient materials, use low-embodied carbon materials, reduce, reuse and recycle and educate people to reduce energy demand – without this we will not deliver on net zero.

A long-term action plan and commitments from the Government are now needed to support decarbonising our housing stock and to provide incentives for housebuilders to do so in a costly and effective manner. There is no time to waste.

We must take stock of key actions and outcomes and turn our attention to global action to support these ambitions. COP28 and future COP conferences will only be successful if the world implements change in the years ahead.