Secretary-General welcomes new report on efforts to green the UN

The United Nations has released details of its greenhouse gas emissions for 52 institutions, covering 200,000 employees, in a new report published as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint.

The report, co-ordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), calculates the UN’s total greenhouse gas emissions for 2009 at 1.7 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent, or 8.3 tonnes per capita.

Over 50 percent of UN’s emissions are from air travel (4.1 tonnes per capita) making this the biggest challenge for the organisation in reducing its overall carbon footprint. Around 37 percent of emissions are from buildings and 13 percent are from vehicles.

The report, Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN, was presented at the meeting of the UN Chief Executives Board of Coordination, in Nairobi, Kenya, where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with the heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes.

In the report’s foreword, Mr. Ban states that improving the UN’s in-house sustainability performance will make the organisation more efficient, more effective and less exposed to risk.

“The United Nations has played a key role in elevating the profile of climate change on the international agenda, and continues to support Member States in their efforts to reduce emissions, strengthen adaptation and respond to this immense global challenge,” writes Mr. Ban.

“Such work has a natural complement in our in-house drive to reduce the UN’s own carbon footprint. What we demand of others, we must do ourselves.”

The report provides a progress update on implementation of UN’s Climate Neutral Strategy. In October 2007, the strategy was approved the UN Chief Executive Board and committed, all agencies, funds and programmes to move towards climate neutrality within the wider context of greening the UN.

The Strategy requires UN bodies to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions, undertake efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and analyse the cost implications of purchasing carbon offsets.

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