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UNEP to Reduce GHG Emissions 3% Annually

Leading by example, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 3 percent each year from 2009 levels between 2010 and 2012 as part of its new strategy to reduce its carbon footprint, reports Afrique Avenir.

UNEP expects to achieve its goals through a wide range of efficiency measures across its global operations from reducing international air travel to cutting electricity and paper use in its offices, according to the article. The efficiency measures could save the organization an estimated $800,000 per year.

Since air travel is responsible for over 85 percent of UNEP’s carbon emissions, UNEP plans to target emissions reductions in work-related travel. The new strategy aims to reduce employee travel by 3 percent each year from 2010 to 2012. Some of the reductions will be achieved by employees taking trains and greater investment in e-conference technology and access to online communications tools and meeting rooms.

UNEP has been climate neutral since 2008, but the new efficiency measures in the Climate Neutral Strategy will help UNEP to lead by example in promoting sustainability.

Under the new guidelines, all conferences, events and meetings must meet UNEP’s 2009 Green Meeting Guide, which outlines ways to reduce waste, energy use and water consumption at these events.

Greenhouse gas emissions from UNEP’s offices, due primarily to electricity use, make up around 15 percent of the organization’s carbon footprint. To reduce workplace emissions, all UNEP offices with 10 or more staff members will undergo in-house GHG emission reduction audits based on the Sustainable United Nations (SUN) Guide to Climate Friendly Buildings and Offices, according to the article.

Each office will develop preliminary emission reduction plans by December 2010.

Meanwhile, environment ministers and senior officials meeting in Geneva last week, ahead of the annual U.N. climate meeting in Cancun from Nov. 29-Dec. 10, made some progress toward a “Green Fund” to help poor countries fight global warming, reports Reuters.

They looked at how to raise a promised $100 billion a year in climate aid from 2020, which may include carbon markets, higher plane fares or taxes on shipping, according to Reuters.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa told Reuters that a Green Fund would only be agreed as part of a broad package in Cancun, including ways to share clean-energy technologies or protect carbon-absorbing forests, adding that all elements of the package had to be agreed, or none.

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