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CTI Workshops at Carbon Expo discuss potential for a more climate-friendly building sector

June 2014 - The side events were part of Germany’s commitment to the Climate Technology Initiative, a multilateral initiative operating as an Implementing Agreement under the International Energy Agency (IEA). Among a range of CTI activities, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) regularly hosts workshops and publishes a newsletter for decision makers from different countries, providing a forum to exchange experiences and best-practice policies in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energies and climate protection in the building sector.

During the two events, policy experts, decision makers, scientists and representatives of financial institutions came together to discuss the situation and potential for a more climate-friendly building sector in selected countries. The first event focused on developments in China and Russia, the second event dealt with Latin America. As side events to the Carbon Expo, both events aimed at bridging the gap between the broader discussions around carbon markets at the Carbon Expo and issues related to a greener building sector covered under the CTI activities.

Russia and China foster green building sector

On 27 May 2014, a day prior to the opening of the Carbon Expo, more than 30 participants attended the side event focusing on Russia and China. The two countries are particularly interesting as they are showing increasing domestic carbon markets activities and policy developments in the field of climate friendly buildings. Both have a concrete perspective on further up-scaling their current efforts regarding carbon markets and the green transformation of their building sector.

The half-day event, held in TÜV Rheinland’s “Cologne Sky” room overlooking the city of Cologne, started off with the presentation of a pilot project in Russia. With an innovative financing model, it aims at energetically modernising large housing clusters in a suburb of Moscow. The speakers and the participants concluded that more pilot projects of this type are required for testing and demonstrating transformative approaches that shift the building sector towards a better climate performance.

The next speaker addressed the general terms of bi-lateral and international co-operation with China and Russia. He stated that capacity building, climate investment by companies and the setting of policy framework conditions are currently the main areas of cooperation. In Russia, Germany supports the development of a carbon related financing concept based on concrete sector data. Chinese-German cooperation focuses on capacity building, especially in the field of emissions trading.

The subsequent presentation dealt more closely with the development of carbon markets. It was stated that particularly the low carbon price is a hurdle for making carbon markets a more relevant financing tool for projects. Nonetheless, existing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) methodologies could be used for building sector projects.

Potential for cooperation in the implementation of pilot-programmes

A contribution from a China showed that mainly large scale public and commercial buildings are covered under the pilot Emission Trading Schemes (ETS) in China. For including broader segments of the building sector, effective and convenient methodologies as well as regulation are required.

In the following, it was explained what role research institutions and private companies can play in supporting pilot approaches for modernising buildings. Research institutions may provide methodological knowledge and data for developing a sound project approach, companies have the technologies required for the modernisation of buildings.

Finally, two co-operation approaches were presented in which German stakeholders work together with Russian and Chinese partners for exchanging knowledge and expertise. The German-Russian co-operation model is a partnership between German and Russian cities. Today, 93 of these partnerships exist. In the case of German-Chinese cooperation, German stakeholder jointly with their Chinese counterparts developed a methodology that provides an applicable way for residential buildings to participate in carbon trading.

As a summary of the event it was concluded that pilot projects and capacity building of relevant stakeholders are crucial for the further modernisation of the building sector in the two countries. Several highly promising examples of such project and co-operation models have been presented and should be further pursued. It may be useful to apply a trial-and-error approach focusing not only on one solution but trying out different ones. This would allow choosing the solution which proves to be most effective and scale it up.

The role of NAMAs in the building sector

The second side event on 30 May 2014 with the focus on Latin America dealt with the latest developments of international climate policy and their relevance for the building sector. In the view of a number of Latin American countries, the concept of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) offers a promising international financing option that can be used in the building sector and at the city level.

Generally, a national climate policy that is applied in the building sector, could link the international climate financing mechanisms and the carbon market with national activities, programs and regulatory schemes. Representatives from Costa Rica and Colombia presented their first internationally acknowledged activities in the field of NAMAs. Of particular interest was the city-related NAMA developed for the Costa Rican capital of San José, which does not develop climate protection activities in the buildings sector in isolation, but embeds them into the urban infrastructure context. The Colombian representative reported similar NAMA activities, on the one hand from the perspective of an institution that is supported by private and public actors, on the other hand, from the perspective of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

A networking meeting held immediately adjacent to the side-event was attended by other Latin American countries, including Chile and Peru. The potential of the approach both for building policies as well as for the political action level ‘city’ was underlined by all representatives. A longer-term exchange of information on national policies, NAMAs and carbon markets will be organised in late summer as part of the Latin American Carbon Forum. Furthermore, the potential of carbon market instruments, also for urban actors, will play a central role for the future CTI activities of the BMUB.