EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS Focus areas
Activities within specific focus areas, where emissions reductions have been achieved in the past two years, are presented below:
Preparation and/or adoption of emis- sion-reduction policies Fifteen UN organizations have adopted, or are in the process of developing, specific emission reduction pol- icies, guiding organization-wide efforts to reduce the climate footprint of the organization. These policies typically link climate-neutral work with the mandate of the organization.
With a few exceptions the emissions-reduction policies do not yet contain any quantified targets. But they are based on GHG inventories which are now complete, and assessments of associated options in each organi- zation. It has now been agreed that all organizations will strive to adopt specific emissions-reduction plans by the end of 2010.
Sustainable travel Travel is the major source of GHG emissions in most UN organizations, typically 50 to 60 per cent but in some cases up to 90 per cent of total emissions. This includes official travel by staff, and travel by meeting partici- pants, consultants and experts the cost of which is paid for by the organization. Thirty-one UN system organi- zations have implemented measures of some kind to reduce the climate footprint of their travel. Measures include: Reduced travel, replacing travel by improved e-com- munication, such as on-line meetings, high quality
video conferencing, and web conferencing; More efficient travel, by train instead of by plane for short distances, or flying in economy class instead of business class. Improved travel planning and coordination to re- duce the number of trips by bundling several objec- tives into one mission.
Specific examples include UNV requiring staff to travel by train if the destination can be reached in less than six hours; UNFPA where travel is approved only if the purpose cannot be fulfilled through video conferenc- ing or other forms of e-communication; UPU only al- lowing travel in business class in exceptional cases; UNITAR strengthening networks of regional training in- stitutions to reduce the distance travelled to workshop sites; ICAO giving preference to carriers with modern fuel-efficient aircrafts; and UNIDO where travel autho- rizations state the quantity of GHG emissions that the staff member is responsible for over the previous year, and where each travel reservation shows the resulting GHG emissions. In a few organizations specific targets have been adopted to reduce travel, including UNAIDS (25 per cent cut in Secretariat travel in 2010–11) and UNIDO (30 per cent cut in directors’ travel in 2009).
There is a clear trend within the UN for an increasing number of organizations to seek ways to cutting travel, both to reduce GHG emissions and costs. While staff travel is essential for the UN to fulfil its mandate, past and current experience shows that there is room for improvement both in the number of missions and the way travel is undertaken.
The Universal Postal Union: travel policies
The UPU has been actively reducing its climate footprint since 2005 when it established the Environment and Sus- tainable Development Project Group and adopted UPU’s en- vironmental policy. A key area for UPU is reducing GHG emis- sions from travel. To this end, it adopted a travel policy which has been successfully implemented over the past years.
UPU’s travel policy includes several recommendations, in- cluding taking the most direct route and giving preference to traveling by train instead of flying, particularly for short- distance trips. As an incentive to promote train over air trav- el, the UPU offers its staff to travel in first class and pay for a half-fare card on public transport within Switzerland. When air travel is unavoidable, UPU only allows travel in economy class (except for the Director General and the Deputy Direc-
tor General) rather than in business class owing to the lat- ter’s larger climate impact. This larger impact arises because a business class passenger occupies more space and has a greater luggage allowance than one traveling in economy. This recommendation is broadly accepted by staff.
Other UPU travel recommendations include promoting the use of teleconferencing to replace travel, reducing the num- ber of staff traveling on the same mission when possible, and deploying local staff instead of staff from headquarters.
Information on travel emissions is collected on an annual basis and communicated by the organization. UPU’s travel policies have resulted in considerable cost savings and have reduced the organization’s climate footprint.