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UNECE is now a climate neutral organization

As a small but important contribution to tackle climate change, UNECE has now taken the necessary measures to be climate neutral. The final step was taken on 14 October 2015, with the purchasing of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to offset its emissions for 2014.

Upon receipt of a letter from the Secretary-General in September 2014 urging the entire UN system to become climate neutral, UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach formed a dedicated Climate Neutral Task Force. Over the past year, this Task Force has worked with relevant departments of the United Nations Office at Geneva in order to calculate UNECE's carbon footprint, which includes CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from official travel as well as from UNECE’s share of the Palais des Nations’ heating, electricity consumption and use of refrigerants. The Task Force then elaborated a climate neutrality strategy which aims at reducing UNECE’s carbon footprint as much as possible and offsetting those emissions which cannot be reduced. The strategy, circulated to both the UNECE Executive Committee and staff, promotes various carbon-friendly steps such as paperless meetings, drinking tap water, recycling, and using low-carbon transportation methods for commuting.

UNECE’s CO2-equivalent emissions for 2014 have been calculated to be 748 tonnes, of which approximately 700 tonnes are from staff travel, as well as the travel of those meeting participants whose tickets are purchased by UNECE. The corresponding amount of CERs have been purchased from the Adaptation Fund, which was launched in 2007 to finance projects and programmes that help developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adapt to the harmful effects of climate change (https://www.adaptation-fund.org/.) The purchase of CERs has been financed by UNECE staff.

Today, UNECE proudly joins the list of more than 15 UN organizations that have become climate neutral. Although this may seem a small step, we hope it demonstrates UNECE’s strong commitment to taking concrete actions to tackle climate change. This step is also particularly timely in light of the upcoming COP21 in Paris where we hope member States will reach a strong climate deal.

More information on the UN system’s efforts to become climate neutral can be found at: http://www.greeningtheblue.org/.