Offsetting carbon emissions in the United Nations

Wed, 11/06/14

For the second year in a row, UNOPS has purchased certified emission reduction (CER) units to offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by its office activities around the world. This year, more than 14,500 CERs were purchased to cover UNOPS emissions in 2012, making it fully climate neutral for its 2012 operations. This reinforces UNOPS’ commitment to climate neutrality and environmental sustainability.

CERs are a type of carbon credit issued by the internationally-recognized Clean Development Mechanism, under the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon credits are tradable certificates that represent the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent measurement of another greenhouse gas. Organizations can ‘offset’ or neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing these credits, which directly support emission reduction projects in developing countries.

Climate change mitigation is at the top of the United Nations agenda. At the Climate Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once again called climate change “the defining issue of our times”, and also highlighted how addressing climate change can strengthen our development efforts – from renewable energy to climate smart agriculture to sustainable transport. Read his speech here.

Following a competitive bidding process, UNOPS chose to purchase the CERs from the Nho Que 3 Hydropower Project, a project registered by the Clean Development Mechanism. The Nho Que Project involves the construction of a hydropower plant with two units on Nho Que River passing through the Lung Pu, Son Vi, Khau Vai and Can Chu Phin communes in Ha Giang province, Viet Nam. Prior to the implementation of the project, electricity in Viet Nam was generated mainly from fossil fuels. To ensure its overall sustainability, the project has been externally verified to be in compliance with the criteria of the World Commission on Dams, which provides guidelines to ensure dam projects are developed through an open consultative process with communities, and appropriately consider social and environmental factors.

UNOPS, a central procurement resource in the United Nations system and an organization with a strong focus on sustainability, is also helping other United Nations organizations offset their carbon emissions. Most recently, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank partnered with UNOPS to purchase carbon credits. As a result, more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2e have been compensated for in a variety of projects, from a landfill gas management project in Colombia, to a wind power project in China, and a project delivering biogas digesters in rural areas of Nepal.

Therese Ballard, Director of UNOPS Sustainable Procurement Delivery Practice said, “Increasingly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change impacts is at the core of the way UNOPS operates. We do so by offsetting those emissions we cannot reduce in sustainable projects in developing countries, but also through our ambitious sustainable procurement programme, where for example we are bringing solar panel solutions and hybrid vehicles to field offices, thanks to our online UN Web Buy procurement portal”.

For more information, please contact:
Nives Costa, Sustainable Procurement Practice Group, UNOPS

Categories: Offsets