COP28: Governments with huge global buying power double down on their commitment to buy green steel, cement and concrete

DUBAI, 5 December 2023 – Today at COP28, some of the world’s largest purchasers of the most emission-intensive materials used in public construction projects strengthened their commitment to use their buying power to create a market demand for low and near-zero emission steel, cement, and concrete, helping to drive the global decarbonisation of these heavy industries.

The governments of Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, member countries of the Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI), pledged to adopt timebound commitments to procure low emission steel, cement and concrete, and/or to set emissions reduction thresholds for whole project life cycle assessments to achieve net zero emissions in public buildings and/or built infrastructure.

The commitments were made through IDDI’s Green Public Procurement Pledge. This aims to incentivise the low and near zero emission production and use of steel, cement and concrete.

Stefan Wenzel, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action of Germany, said: “Accelerating the demand for green materials such as steel and cement is one of the major levers for decarbonising our industries. The Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative coordinated by UNIDO shows us the path forward here with its Green Public Procurement Pledge. We are pleased to announce our commitments and efforts alongside our partners at COP28 and invite others to participate in this important endeavour.”

Creating a significant demand for low and near zero emission steel, cement and concrete, especially in the construction sector, will be a positive enabler to decarbonisation. Steel and concrete are two of the most carbon-intensive commodities on the planet, yet they are the building blocks of our world. They are essential elements of the global economy and a key driver of development aspirations. Steel accounts for between 7 and 10% of global energy sector emissions and cement accounts for 7%. To achieve global climate goals, carbon emissions from steel, cement and concrete need to decrease by more than 90% by 2050.

The United Kingdom’s Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, Graham Stuart, said: “Governments have the power to instigate change through public contracts, kick starting the improvements needed to decarbonise heavy industry. The UK is proud to be a world leader in reducing emissions from industry, and making this commitment to the Green Public Procurement Pledge will help boost demand for lower carbon steel, cement and concrete as we work towards net zero.”

As part of the announcement made today at COP28, the four governments also committed to support innovation and the deployment of breakthrough technologies by stimulating demand for, and the commercialisation of, near zero emission materials.

In addition, the four pledge signatories committed to support the development and use of harmonised emissions accounting standards and definitions for low and near zero emission construction materials, starting with steel, cement and concrete. To accelerate this process, at COP28 the IDDI Secretariat is releasing a white paper outlining a potential pathway towards harmonised greenhouse gas emissions accounting standards.

Andrew Mayock, Federal Chief Sustainability Officer at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said: “In support of President Biden’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative to catalyse demand for cleaner construction materials, in 2023 the U.S. Government began to procure over US $4 billion of low embodied carbon concrete, asphalt, glass, and steel for Federal buildings and Federally-funded infrastructure projects. This game-changing investment by the U.S. Government, the largest buyer in the world, will spur industry innovation, mark progress towards President Biden’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050, and increase the sustainability of Federal supply chains.”

The four governments have also committed to transparently report on progress towards the IDDI green public procurement commitments and recognised the need for governmental collaboration and cross-sectoral dialogue to accelerate commitments and implementation.

In addition to the commitments made by Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Federal Government of Austria, the Government of Japan, and the Government of the United Arab Emirates have endorsed the GPP Statement of Intent. This states these governments’ intentions to work towards key aspects of the Pledge.

Coordinated by UNIDO, the IDDI is co-led by the UK and India. Current members are Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. The IDDI also brings together a strong coalition of over 70 related initiatives, trade bodies and organisations, including the Mission Possible Partnership, the Climate Group, the World Economic Forum, and the Leadership Group for the Industry Transition (LeadIT).

The Statement of Intent and the GPP Pledge are open to any government and are not contingent on IDDI membership.

Read the full announcement outlining the actions IDDI member countries are taking.