Explained: How COVID-19 Helps UN in Reducing Its GHG Emissions

Total Views : 242
Zoom In Zoom Out Read Later Print

Greening the Blue 2021 shows how COVID-19 changed how UN entities work and engage with one another, personnel, member countries, partners, and other organizations. Much of the UN system’s work moved online and the use of digital technologies became paramount to the continued delivery of the UN’s mandate.

New Delhi (ABC Live India): In 2020, the UN system generated about 1.5 million tonnes CO2eq greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with per capita emissions of 5 tonnes CO2eq. The sources of the emissions were 32 per cent air travel, 12 per cent other travel (rail, road, sea, etc.) and 55 per cent facilities. Ninety-nine per cent of these emissions were offset. These figures are a 25 per cent reduction from 2019 – reflecting the sudden and dramatic adaptations in operations that the UN made in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, the UN publishes the ‘Greening the Blue’ report, which provides data on the organization’s environmental footprint and efforts to reduce it, as per the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030 (Phase I).

This year’s report, released on 8 November, examined the environmental impact of the UN’s 56 entities and 315,000 personnel in Headquarters, field offices and operations on the ground in the year 2020. It found that pandemic-related adaptations to UN operations reduced waste generation and water consumption. Per capita waste generation for the UN system in 2020 was 396 kg/; a reduction of 61 kg/person from 2019 figures. Water consumption also declined - in 2020, an average of 38 m3 of water was consumed per person by the UN system vs. 49 m3 in 2019.

To mark the report launch, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said, “Facing a triple planetary emergency — a climate crisis, a nature crisis and a pollution crisis — we need urgent and determined action from everyone, everywhere. The United Nations is committed to leading by example in reducing our carbon and environmental footprint in all our operations around the globe. Together, let’s achieve a sustainable, net-zero and resilient world for all.”

Greening the Blue 2021 shows how COVID-19 changed how UN entities work and engage with one another, personnel, member countries, partners, and other organizations. Much of the UN system’s work moved online and the use of digital technologies became paramount to the continued delivery of the UN’s mandate. This shift had several positive environmental impacts. For instance, at some UN entities, online events support increased 100 per cent during 2020. Online events have the potential to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of major international meetings and can be more inclusive than physical events.

While much of the UN system’s work and mandate delivery moved online during the pandemic, there are still critical efforts that can only be delivered in-person, using physical facilities and technologies. Greening the Blue 2021 also looks at how UN entities continued to improve the environmental footprint of their work across different environmental impact and management areas in 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that there are many ways to work and collaborate that can reduce our negative environmental impacts,” said Isabella Marras, Coordinator of UNEP’s ‘Sustainable UN’ programme. “As the world continues to cope with the ongoing pandemic, we should look at how to implement these learnings for the long-term. The UN system has a tremendous opportunity to learn from the experiences it gained by working differently and delivering its mandate with less travel and alternative working modalities.”

Know About Greening the Blue

Greening the Blue is a United Nations Environment Programme initiative to engage and support the UN system in the transition towards greater environmental sustainability in the management of its facilities and operations. Greening the Blue first published the annual Greening the Blue Report in 2009, for 2008 data. The Report was previously called Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN, and became Greening the Blue Report in 2016. With time, reporting has improved in accuracy and in scope to include environmental impact areas and management functions identified in the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030, Phase I: Environmental Sustainability in the Area of Management.

Also, Read

Explained: The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero For Climate Funding

See More

Latest Photos