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UN Reports GHG Emissions on Journey Towards Climate Neutrality

greening the blue logo21 June 2013: The UN has launched the fourth edition of 'Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN,' the annual progress report on the UN's efforts to achieve climate neutrality, which details the UN's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2011 and some of the activities undertaken in 2012 to reduce them.

GHG inventories were compiled for 63 UN entities, covering over 221,000 UN staff across hundreds of locations, with results revealing greenhouse gas emissions totaling 1.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2011 (equal to energy-related emissions of 350,000 European households). The biggest challenge faced by the UN in reducing its carbon footprint is in air travel, which comprises up to 50% of per capita emissions. The inventories include emissions from all activities under the direct operational and/or financial control of the UN, including heating and cooling of buildings.

The report also makes a case for integrating sustainability management into day-to-day operations by highlighting cost savings resulting from measures taken in various UN facilities, such as changing building facades, installing energy-efficient elevators and efficiently managing waste. In addition, the report emphasizes the importance of greater awareness and staff engagement in achieving climate neutrality.

The UN's efforts towards climate neutrality began in June 2007 when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his intent to make UN operations more efficient, and UN organizations agreed to move towards climate neutrality by reducing GHG emissions. In 2012, this mandate was strengthened and broadened by Member States and UN leaders to include all environmental impacts resulting from UN facilities and internal operations, programmes and planning. 

The 2012 edition aims to reach a wider audience by presenting key messages in a short brochure. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Greening the Blue Press Release] [Publication: Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN: The UN System's Footprint and Efforts to Reduce It (2012 edition)] [Efforts of Individual UN Organizations]