MOVING TOWARDS A CLIMATE NEUTRAL UN
3. EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS
A strategic approach
The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordina- tion (CEB) committed to reduce GHG emissions to the extent possible. At its September 2009 meeting, the En- vironment Management Group (EMG) agreed to facili- tate the development of individual emission reduction strategies for each organization as well as a common approach to emission reduction across the UN system.
The Sustainable United Nations facility (SUN), hosted by UNEP, was set up in 2008 to provide support along- side EMG, to all organizations within the UN system, and others outside, to reduce their GHG emissions.
Support is provided in three areas: Identification and implementation of emission re- ductions opportunities in individual UN organiza- tions, each one having assigned a climate neutral focal point responsible for coordinating internal emission-reduction activities;
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Development of common tools and guidelines to support emissions-reduction efforts in organizations. This is a joint effort by all UN organizations, coordi- nated by SUN and EMG. Tools include guidelines for emissions-reductions through sustainable policies for facilities management, travel and procurement, green meetings, distance working, etc.; Revision of common policies affecting the ability of UN organizations to behave in a more climate- friendly and sustainable way. This includes minimum standards for energy efficiency in facilities owned or leased by UN, and for access to e-communication tools by UN staff, thus reducing the need for travel, with revised procurement guidelines to allow the purchase of energy-efficient equipment when pos- sible.
The following section describes progress and achieve- ments in these work streams in greater detail.
UNITAR: where there’s a will there is a way
Within a few months in autumn 2008, UNITAR set up its 2009–10 climate-neutral policy and strategy, com- pleted a first inventory of GHG emissions, set measur- able emissions-reduction targets, and promulgated a number of measures to reduce its climate impact. What made such rapid process possible?
UNITAR’s Executive Director, Carlos Lopes, simply took the decision by the UN Chief Executives’ Board on Coordination (CEB) literally and made it a strategic priority for the Institute to become climate neutral. A Climate Neutral Task Force was set up, headed by the Associate Director of Environment and compris- ing staff from the Climate Change Programme and the Administration and Finance Section to ensure swift implementation. The Task Force meets at least once a quarter and regular briefings occur with the Executive Directors to review progress and challenges.
The Climate Neutral Policy was promulgated through an administrative circular, making it binding across the Insti- tute. It states that all 2008 emissions emanating from staff travel and headquarters office operations will be offset. In 2009 the target is to offset all GHG emissions from all office locations, all emissions originating from staff travel and half the emissions from travel of workshop participants and trainees. In 2010 all of UNITAR’s operations, including emissions from all workshop participants, will be offset.
An important aspect of the Policy is that it does not comprise the ability of the Institute to meet increasing demand for its training services. This is achieved by setting a target of reduc- ing GHG emissions per person trained and unit of training de- livered rather than absolute emissions-reduction benchmarks. The target is to halve emissions by 2012 per unit of training delivered, using 2009 data as a baseline. Enhancing the use of technology-supported learning, such as e-learning and video- conferencing, is an important factor in reaching this target.