Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities, and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and will surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century with some areas of the world expected to warm even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.
EIGHT TARGETS FOR UN SECRETARIAT CLIMATE ACTION
- Carbon emissions: Absolute and per capita reduction of 25% by 2025 and 45% by 2030.
- Electricity consumption: Per capita reductions of 20% by 2025 and 35% by 2030.
- Renewable energy: 40% by 2025 and 80% by 2030 of consumed electricity.
- Commercial air travel: Per capita emissions reductions of 10% by 2025 and 15% by 2030.
- Events: 100% of events (over 300 participants) meet established sustainability standards.
- Climate neutrality: 100% of unavoidable carbon emissions are offset yearly from 2019 via certified carbon credits.
- Operational efficiencies: demonstrated long-term economic benefits from the Plan implementation.
- Sustainable Development co-benefits: demonstrated an increase in climate-smart infrastructure and other sustainable development benefits to local communities from Plan implementation.
Three Track in Climate Action Plan
The plan proposes an integrated and simultaneous three-track implementation approach to realize rapid results and progress, accelerating proven innovative solutions and partnerships.
- Track 1 – Intensification aims at accelerating current efforts, including that underway with the implementation of the Environment Strategy for Field Missions, with reinforced existing systems and capacity. The focus would be on behavioral change linked to consumption, energy efficiency, connection to existing renewable grids where possible, and some limited renewable energy self-generation.
- Track 2 – There will be innovation required to develop innovative and complex solutions in the field of renewable energy.
- Track 3 – Internal and external outreach would support track 1 and track 2 with sustained communication and educational campaign to effect institutional change and facilitate resource mobilization efforts.
Scope and Purpose: A “Climate Smart” Secretariat
The Plan is designed to ensure that the UN Secretariat can reach the UN system goals of alignment with the 2018 IPCC report recommendations to “reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C” [IPCC, (2018)] from its operations and facilities. The Plan is a critical tool to help mobilize and direct a decade-long transition toward climate-smart operations.
- Achieve significant and permanent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its global operations in line with the IPCC recommendations.
- Reduce energy consumption and the transition to a significantly greater reliance on renewable energy while generating operational and financial co-benefits.
- Maintain climate neutrality for the Organization.
- Better contribute to the UN system in its work to helping address global climate mitigation and adaptation challenge.
- Deliver practical sustainable development co-benefits to the communities that host UN Secretariat facilities via its own transformation process and increased multi-stakeholder investment for innovative climate-smart operations.
Approach for Implementation
- Track 1 – Intensification would build on existing systems and capacity, but be reinforced and supported by some additional dedicated implementation capacity. The focus would be on behavioral and managerial changes, energy efficiency, connection to existing renewable grids where possible, and some limited renewable energy self-generation. The core funding source for Track 1 is the annual operating budget of the Secretariat entities with a more systematic emphasis on prioritizing high-impact projects. However, the Plan cannot mobilize to scale without additional seed funding from either internal or external resource mobilization.
- Track 2 – There will be a major thrust on innovation to develop innovative and complex solutions that will help scale new technologies. It is proposed that Track 2 be funded through blended finance, as a structural approach that allows/designs for different types of capital (whether impact or commercial oriented), to invest alongside each other while each achieving their own objectives (whether financial, social, or a blend).
- Track 3 – Internal and external outreach. The key to the success of the proposed institutional change lies in the active involvement of UN staff and non-staff personnel, and the participation from the Member States. Much as in the existing UN system Greening the Blue campaign, a large part of the results and motivation is driven by participating management and staff in UN Secretariat entities. Simultaneously, progress in environmental management in UN organizations is of interest and serves as a model to other public sector organizations whether these are other international inter-governmental organizations or the Member States.
The Implementation Team
To respond to the climate emergency and make rapid progress, a dedicated team will be required to focus on the implementation of the Plan.
The team will need to be multi-functional with expertise in the following areas:
- Policy, Strategic Planning, and Monitoring to align actions with policy priorities while developing an actionable work plan and continuously review progress to sustain a results-oriented approach that will maximize impact.
- Engineering and information technology, building on existing in-house expertise, to support the entities for the rapid implementation of the Plan, including expertise in off-grid and on-grid sustainable energy installations, civil and environmental engineering, and capacity building experience to deliver projects with local partners for the benefit of the community.
- Military and police planning to ensure environmental considerations are mainstreamed in all force generation and uniformed planning efforts.
- Strategic engagement to bring forward political solutions with the UN system entities, Member States, and other partners to maximize the linkages between climate action, sustainable development, peace, and human rights.
- Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation to ensure alignment and implementation of UN Secretariat climate actions with ongoing efforts by partners and organizations, including the mainstreaming of gender and other critical perspectives for impactful climate action.
- Project development, planning, and implementation and change management expertise will also be essential to the effectiveness of the team in delivering results
This UN Secretariat Climate Action Plan is part of the UN climate action response to climate emergencies. To achieve its ambitious targets, the UN Secretariat will require the commitment of all Secretariat entities to transform current practices, synergies with other UN system entities to leverage results, and the engagement with external partners to collaborate on innovations and investments.
The Plan provides a starting point and the steps can already be taken to mobilize resources, build bridges with relevant UN initiatives, intensify existing efforts while solutions and detailed implementation roadmap continue to be developed in a consultative process