Kicking the CO2 Habit at Climate Convention Meet
Bali/Nairobi/Oslo/San Jose/Wellington, 12 December 2007 - The United Nations has become part of the growing worldwide effort to become climate neutral.
Members of the UN attending the crucial climate convention meeting in Bali today announced that they are offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions linked with travel to and from the event.
The move, covering some 20 agencies, funds and programmes, also includes the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and his team.
In order to show leadership and demonstrate practical action in support of developing countries and the urgent need to counter global warming, the UN bodies have jointly agreed to invest in credits accumulating in the adaptation fund of the Kyoto Protocol.
The UN calculates that its greenhouse gas emissions arising from travel to and from Indonesia represents around 3,370 tonnes of carbon dioxide worth approximately $100,000 at current carbon prices.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said today: "The UN is today delivering as one on the issue of climate change as it is increasingly doing across the range of 21st century challenges as part of its on-going and forward-looking reform agenda".
"Offsetting emissions by supporting the soon-to-be operational adaptation fund sends a clear signal that climate proofing vulnerable economies has?like the UN's action on climate change generally?risen to the top of the organization's agenda in 2007," he said.
"Under the leadership of Ban Ki-Moon, the entire UN system has now pledged to work towards climate neutrality, not just in Bali but across offices and operations globally and forever. Indeed I can announce today that UNEP will be among the early movers and will become climate neutral next month,"said Mr Steiner.
Norway, one of four countries that have pledged to go climate neutral nationally, today also reconfirmed that it is backing the UN system-wide work towards climate neutrality with an initial investment of $820,000 for the UNEP-hosted Environmental Management Group.
Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development, said: "We believe it is important that the UN take the lead and facilitate a common understanding of what climate neutrality is and how to achieve it. We are very happy to witness the strong system-wide response across the UN these past months, coordinated by the UN Environmental Management Group, the EMG, and we are proud to be a key financial supporter."
The news comes as Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway fleshed out some of the pioneering plans and strategies they are developing in order to achieve climate neutrality in their own countries.
David Parker Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues for New Zealand, which will in June next year be the main host for UN World Environment Day with the slogan Kick the C02 Habit, said: "We're proud to be hosting World Environment Day in 2008. New Zealand aims to become the world's first truly sustainable nation".
"Our plan to become climate neutral involves a goal of generating 90 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and halving our per capita transport emissions by 2040 by introducing electric cars and a requirement to use bio fuels. To incentivise climate-friendly behaviour we're introducing an emissions trading scheme, which includes all sectors and all gases," he added.
Agriculture and livestock is an important sector in New Zealand's economy, said Mr Parker.
"New Zealand is already a world leader in agricultural research, and is turning its expertise towards research to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, for example, methane from livestock,"he added.
Paulo Manso, Chief of Costa Rica's delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: "The decision to become climate neutral had been taken by President Oscar Arias as part of the new Presidential initiative called Peace with Nature".
"The Peace with Nature initiative honours the ethical, human, social, environmental and economic approach which Costa Rica has towards the environment and sustainable development," he added.
Costa Rica has placed climate change at the very top of its agenda arguing that a climate neutral economy is also a competitive one.
The aim is to achieve the neutrality goal by 2021 to coincide with the country's 200th anniversary of independence.
The strategy will build on Costa Rica's decision to tax fossil fuels in 1996 with 3.5 per cent of the money raised allocated to the National Forestry Financing Fund.
These, along with other financial support such as loans and grants, are part of a payment for environmental services programme that pays landowners who manage forests for their carbon sequestration and storage alongside management for water production, biodiversity and scenic beauty.
Costa Rica's avoided deforestation programme (see separate press release from Costa Rica) will include support for the Billion Tree Campaign established by UNEP and the World Agroforestry Centre, whose patrons are Wangari Maathai and Prince Albert of Monaco.
In 2007 Costa Rica planted more than five million trees or 1.25 per person making it the highest per capita planting in the world.
Other elements of the strategy include increasing the percentage of renewable energy generation to well over 90 per cent and action on energy efficiency including energy saving appliances.
Biofuels and a switch to electric and hybrid buses and cars are also part of the plan alongside capture and use of methane from landfills and wastewater treatment plants as a fuel.
Mr Solheim, the Norwegian minister of Environment and Development today, reaffirmed his country's commitment to become "climate neutral by 2050" and starting immediately to over-fulfill its Kyoto obligations during the first commitment period..
He said the Norwegian Parliament was expected on 14 December to approve a plan for Norway to buy carbon credits worth four billion kroner- around 500 million Euro- under the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
Mr Solheim said the country would be pursuing vigorous energy savings and efficiency measures at home to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to fully utilize and contribute to the evolution of the carbon markets established under the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol.
Mr Steiner added that it was vital that a deep and decisive international emissions reduction regime is up and running by 2012.
"However, it also clear that some countries are voluntarily and already prepared to go that extra mile. And it is not just countries but a growing and widening group of companies, cities and individual citizens who are also looking to their carbon footprints with a view to working towards climate neutrality," he added.
Mr Steiner said that, at the suggestion of Costa Rican Environment Minister Ricardo Dobles, UNEP was establishing an Internet-based climate neutral network.
He urged other interested countries, companies and cities to join the initiative in advance of its official launch at the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Monaco in late February 2008.