EuropeOn at the Buildings and Climate Global Forum

At the beginning of March, EuropeOn General Secretary Julie Beaufils represented her organisation as well as the Electrification Alliance to the Buildings and Climate Global Forum. The Forum, co-organised by the French government and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, gathered in Paris for the first time ministers and high-level representatives of key organisations, to initiate a new impetus in international collaboration for building decarbonisation and resilience after the Conference of the Parties (COP) 28.

The first day was dedicated to panel sessions bringing together perspectives from the whole world. Julie Beaufils spoke at a session titled “Decent jobs in a changing climate: how to design for an inclusive and just transition”. The panel was moderated by Jane Cohen from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and included Nasra Nanda, Property lawyers and member of the Nairobi City County Assembly (Kenya), and Mouhamadou Sow from the Ministry of Environment in Mauritania. Mrs. Nanda focused on the need in Kenya to improve sustainability and disaster management for buildings as well as for informal settlements which are quite common in Kenya. Mr. Sow presented the work started in 2021 by his government to set up an initiative fostering green and decent jobs, especially in construction, with a focus on the youth and women. Mauritania also wants to address climate change transversally, by bringing all relevant ministries to the same table.

Similarly to Mauritania, Julie Beaufils was asked to comment on Europe’s top-down approach, particularly regarding climate and energy targets that governments are setting in view of an energy transition market. EuropeOn General Secretary hinted at workforce shortages and emphasised that shaping a qualified workforce is an investment, which, just as any other investment, responds to signals. The EU Green Deal vision requires clear objectives and related support so that professionals can be recruited and trained accordingly, in a low-unemployment economy. Moreover, objectives must be precisely defined at the right level. Julie Beaufils mentioned the case of the Netherlands where climate and energy policies are defined at the local level and can mean, for example, that a Dutch region will heavily bet on heat pump technologies when other regions may concentrate on other priorities. This must be clarified in order to prepare the labour market.

The Electrification Action Plan, a strategy called for by all members of the Electrification Alliance, would be another good example of valuable market signal. The Alliance is asking the European Commission to release an Electrification Action Plan within the first 100 days of its new tenure, with the ambition to increase the EU’s electrification rate from 23% nowadays to 35% by 2030. Such a target would be backed with measures including grid modernisation, enabling demand-side flexibility, and removing any non-electricity related taxes and levies from electricity bills. Some propositions are outlined in Eurelectric’s latest report (representing the European electricity industry).

Coming back to the Buildings and Climate Global Forum in Paris, the second day welcomed ministers involved in relevant policies from over 70 countries. Together, they adopted the “Chaillot Ministerial Declaration” which aims to advance the pledges enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Among other things, the signatory states commit to: implementing roadmaps, regulatory and financial frameworks, and binding construction and energy codes to aim for more carbon-neutral buildings. They also commit to enhancing skills by particularly strengthening local know-how that takes into account mitigation and adaptation strategies.