Friday, 21 June 2013

UN reports its greenhouse gas emissions as it journeys towards climate neutrality

VIENNA, 21 June 2013 – The United Nations has released details of its greenhouse gas emissions for 2011 in a new report titled Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN.  

The publication covers 63 entities and over 221,000 employees, and represents a key part of ongoing efforts to move the UN towards climate neutrality.

The results show that the UN’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 1.8 million tonnes of CO₂ equivalent, or 7.9 tonnes per capita in 2011.

Over 50 per cent of UN’s emissions are from air travel (4 tonnes per capita), making this the biggest challenge for the UN system in reducing its overall carbon footprint.   

In 2007, the Sustainable United Nations (SUN) facility and the Issue Management Group (IMG) on Environmental Sustainability Management were created to work on measuring, reducing and offsetting the UN’s carbon footprint. Since 2012, their mandate has been strengthened and broadened by Member States and UN System leaders. The focus has now moved away from purely reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is instead working towards a systematic consideration of the environmental impacts that derive from all UN facilities and operations, as well as programmes and planning.

The emissions calculations in the report have been compiled using internationally recognized guidance based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a widely used methodology developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The UN greenhouse gas inventory includes emissions from all activities that are under the direct financial control of the organization, such as the heating and cooling of buildings and the travel of staff members.

As well as presenting a breakdown of each agencies figures, Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN also makes the business case for integrating sustainability management into day to day operations, illustrating the cost savings which have resulted from waste reduction, energy efficiency and facilities management initiatives.

To read Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN and to download a copy of the poster please visit