UN calls for increase in sustainable infrastructure investment

A joint report from the World Bank, the OECD and the UN Environment has recommended that public and private investments in low-emission and sustainable infrastructure are “scaled up” to mitigate global warming


Joe McGrath

More than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions now originate from the energy, transport, buildings and water infrastructure sector, according to the new research, prompting the calls for urgent investment in sustainable upgrades.

The findings came from a preview of a forthcoming report by the UN Environment, the OECD and the World Bank Group entitled Financing Climate Futures: Rethinking Infrastructure.

It recommended that governments need to adopt a “more transformative agenda” on financing for a low-carbon future to meet the Paris temperature goals by peaking CO2 emissions as soon as possible and then bringing them down to net zero or lower in the second half of the century.

In a statement previewing the findings from the forthcoming report, Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment, said that building climate-compatible infrastructure is a cornerstone for the success of the Paris Agreement and broader sustainability goals.

He said: “We have seen encouraging momentum in this direction, but we need to start making real change happen.

“Only sustainable infrastructure can deliver huge benefits to people and the planet. To encourage the capital allocation that will unlock this promise, however, we need new thinking. This report presents some of the steps we can take to make this change.”

The report’s authors said that because energy, transport, buildings and water infrastructure now contribute the majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative that public and private investments in low-emission and sustainable infrastructure are “scaled up”.

Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive officer of the World Bank, said: “We cannot ignore the new reality of powerful weather events that threaten jobs, homes, food security and other critical areas of our lives.

“The infrastructure that is built today must be ready to cope with tomorrow’s changing climate. We need the right incentives and regulations to urgently accelerate funding to these projects.”

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