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POZNAN, Poland, December 8, 2008 (ENS)
Energy use in buildings accounts for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the potential of the construction sector to combat climate change has not been tapped, according to a new report issued by the United Nations Environment Program.
The report was released Saturday to governments meeting in Poznan for the latest round of UN climate change talks. The negotiations are aimed at reaching agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Today's commercially available technologies make it possible to halve energy consumption in both new and old buildings without significant investment, the report finds.
Yet only 10 out of some 4,000 projects in the pipeline of the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, which finances initiatives that help reduce emissions, are designed to curb the use of energy in buildings.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, has warned that building-related emissions could nearly double from almost nine billion tons in 2004 to nearly 16 billion in 2030.
"Report after report is now underlining the huge, cost-effective savings possible from addressing emissions from existing buildings alongside designing new ones that include passive and active solar up to low-energy heating and cooling systems and energy-efficient systems," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Dozens of surveys conducted worldwide show that up to 30 percent reduction in emissions from residential and commercial buildings can be achieved by 2030 at a net negative cost.
Effective measures include improved ventilation and insulation, stepped up use of natural lighting and the use of solar and other natural heat sources.
The sector remains virtually untapped because six years after the start of the Clean Development Mechanism, very few building projects have managed to enter its pipeline. Nearly half of all proposals were rejected during the registration phase.
High administrative costs and weak financial incentives as being among the barriers for approval by the CDM, according to the report entitled "The Kyoto Protocol, the Clean Development Mechanism, and the Building and Construction Sector.
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