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Global research reveal infrastructure’s climate challenge

Words: Huw Morris
Motorway / iStock: 523995635

Infrastructure across the world is responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation costs, according to major international research.

A study, by a team of experts from UN Office for Project Services, UN Environment Programme and Oxford University, focused on the influence of infrastructure on climate action across energy, transport, water, solid waste, digital communications and buildings sectors.

It reveals global infrastructure is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 88 per cent of all adaptation costs, according to the study.

The research, which aims to outline infrastructure’s role in achieving the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals ahead of next month’s COP26 conference, calls for radical changes in how governments plan, deliver and manage infrastructure.

These should include embedding climate and environmental factors into planning processes to understand the needs and capacity of an area to support development.

Governments should also focus on protecting and managing natural habitats and regenerate those impacted by earlier infrastructure development, while offering incentives for the take-up of “nature-based solutions” as alternatives to bulk infrastructure assets.

Download Infrastructure for Climate Action (PDF)

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