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Insights Key outcomes from the United Nations Climate Change Conference

Since the Paris Agreement of 2015 – a legally binding contract to treat climate change – countries across the globe have been supporting each other to achieve their carbon neutrality targets. During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, experts from around the world came together to drive action against climate change.

At AtkinsRéalis , we understand the importance of sustainability. That’s why we’re passionate about overcoming the climate crisis and improving the carbon footprint in construction. We’re also joined by our brands Atkins and Faithful+Gould and as a group, we partner with clients globally in various sectors, including construction, infrastructure and engineering. Below, we outline the key outcomes from the United Nations Climate Change conference and they will positively impact the construction industry.


One of the major issues discussed in the conference was mitigation. This revolved around the actions that all parties must take to reduce global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees, as well as greater acknowledgement of the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions on the natural world. Some of the key outcomes included an agreement between all parties to strengthen and revisit their 2030 emission targets in 2022 and bring them more in alignment with the Paris Agreement. Much of the mitigation strategies outlined include reversing deforestation, switching to electric vehicles and reducing methane emissions. All of this would have a positive impact on the construction industry. As a result of these measures, construction businesses would have to focus more on choosing materials with lower embodied carbon and using waste and recyclable materials.


Adaptation was one of the core goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. The plan revolved around strengthening resilience and adapting to the effects of climate change, particularly in developing countries. There have been concerns regarding the progress of adaptation, but now 80 countries are covered by adaptation, which is designed to improve finances for developing countries and drive further action. Climate change adaptation is a key priority in the construction sector and there’s now a greater desire to build more resilient buildings. This would mean building new structures that can adapt to harsher weather conditions and research has shown that over 1.6 billion urban dwellers will experience extreme temperatures by 2050. Therefore, adapting structures and urban areas to the changing climate is hugely important. This could mean creating new buildings that are surrounded by green spaces and committing funds to support energy-efficient buildings. The adaptation plan, discussed in the conference, aims to enhance the understanding of the global goal, so this will be positive for all industries, including construction.

Loss and damage

Loss and Damage have been a key issue for several years as climate change has affected many lives and ecosystems. As explained in the conference, “loss and damage” refers to the harmful effects of climate change. The conference agreed to take urgent action to provide funding to tackle the loss and damage caused by climate change. Therefore, loss and damage strategies will almost certainly have a positive impact on the construction environment as businesses seek new ways to reduce climate change damage and build resilience against future losses.


Collaboration is focused on everyone working together to achieve greater action. The collaboration new work plan focuses on continuing the collaboration between businesses, civil society and governments. As a result, this outcome is very positive for the construction industry because collaborative practices have been a key topic for several years. Collaboration in construction is crucial for economic growth, particularly as demand and cost of materials are rising. With collaboration strategies being a key outcome at the conference, this could pave the way for enhancing collaboration in construction to fight against climate change.


There’s no doubt that the construction sector will play a huge role in the shift toward a low-carbon future. According to research, the sector contributes to 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the materials used a major driver of those emissions. During the conference, an agreement was made to fully implement the plans that were made under the Paris Agreement. The parties also agreed on several practical and institutional arrangements. Early action to decarbonize buildings will likely be a top priority within construction. Implementation will play a key role in construction as the sector continues to reduce carbon emissions.

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At SNC Lavalin, we have some of the most talented construction professionals and civil engineers who are dedicated to delivering outstanding projects and transforming lives. We believe in continuous growth and development, and building a high-performance culture. We have lots of growth-oriented roles available, such as geotechnical engineering jobs, architecture jobs and sustainability positions. We’re also committed to achieving Net Zero and ensuring those we work with can build a future in the construction industry.

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