UN offsets 17% of 2013 emissions

Mon, 21/09/15

Information provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sustainable United Nations team shows that the United Nations (UN) system has offset 17% of its reported greenhouse gas emissions for 2013, a positive step towards meeting Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s ambitious target of the UN system to be climate neutral by 2020. 

 

The news comes as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) launches its Climate Neutral Now initiative, which encourages and enables organizations, companies and individuals to measure, reduce and offset their emissions direct with UN-certified climate credits.


A significant effort has been underway in the UN since 2007, when organizations approved the UN Climate Neutral Strategy, which commits all UN organizations to measure, reduce and then offset any greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be avoided. The UN has been measuring its greenhouse gas emissions from facilities and travel since 2009 and in 2013 emitted at least 1,7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

A total of nine UN-system organizations achieved climate neutrality for 2013 by measuring, reducing and offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions. An additional two organizations offset emissions from their headquarters for the same period.

Combined, their 2013 offsets are equivalent to 280,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – 17% of the reported greenhouse gas emissions for the UN system that year and equivalent to the emissions from burning 667,000 barrels of oil.

The UN’s approach to measuring its emissions follows the principles of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and it’s methodology is compatible with ISO 14064.  Emission reduction work is managed through individual agency emission reduction plans, and success stories and case studies are shared on the Greening the Blue website.

Offsets are purchased from the UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund, via organizations such as the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS), or through external brokers. The carbon credits support projects that are proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of an equivalent amount and, in the case of Adaptation Fund offsets, they also support projects with an adaptation component, thereby assisting communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Examples of projects supported include methane capture and flaring in Colombia, the introduction of a new hydropower plant in Vietnam, the distribution of thousands of solar cookers in China and the restoration of mangroves in India. As well as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, these projects deliver additional sustainable development benefits in the form of jobs, improved health and/or access to clean energy. Read more about the UN's approach to offsettng and how it works on Greening the Blue's offsetting pages. 

Commenting on the efforts underway in the UN system, Isabella Marras, Coordinator of the UNEP-based Sustainable United Nations initiative, said: “We are very pleased to see so many organizations responding to the Secretary-General’s call for action. Sustainable UN wholeheartedly supports those organizations that are walking the talk and reducing the environmental footprint of UN facilities and operations.”

In recent years, most UN organizations have taken steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as reported on the Greening the Blue website. Examples of emission reductions initiatives include reducing air travel (UNIDO), introducing more efficient temperature management systems (World Bank Group), sourcing 100% of electricity from renewable sources (UNFCCC) and generating electricity on-site through photo-voltaics (UNDP).

Welcoming the news, Niclas Svenningsen, Manager at the Sustainable Development Mechanisms Programme at UNFCCC said: “Offsetting is an effective way of achieving real emission reductions where they are otherwise difficult to achieve, and we’re delighted that the UN is leading the way for public sector organizations in mitigating its climate impacts”. 

UN reported greenhouse gas emissions and offsets for 2013

 

Organization

Total reported emissions 2013

(tonnes CO2equivalent)

Total offsets
2013

(tonnes CO2equivalent)

BRS

697

697

IMO

4,140

4,140

UNAIDS

5,723

5,723

UNCCD

1,182

1,182

UNEP

10,825

10,825

UNFCCC

3,985

3,985

UNOPS

14,035

14,035

UNV

363

363

WBG

236,451

236,451

 

Offsetting HQ only

 

UNDP

69,896

7,050 

UNWomen

2,132

2,132

 

UN TOTAL

1,721,184

286,583 (17%)

 

Categories: Offsets