Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
The United Nations, progenitor of a thousand agencies, has released a report called “MOVING TOWARDS A CLIMATE NEUTRAL UN” regarding its success in reducing its own “carbon footprint” (full version , summary). The Head Prophet of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, has revealed the mysteries to us unwashed masses as follows:
We are making steady progress. In March, the main UN website launched a new section offering a wide range of information on the Organization’s sustainability performance. In April, I opened the new UN building in Nairobi – a beacon of sustainable construction. In May, a new position – UN Senior Advisor on Sustainability – was created to coordinate the Secretariat’s work on climate neutrality. In August, I presented the UN21 Award to the UN Environment Programme and the Department of Field Support for their efforts to green the UN. And in September, senior officials of the inter-agency Environment Management Group approved a Strategic Plan for Sustainability Management in the UN system.
The United Nations system is strongly committed to leading by example and ensuring that our operations are continuously monitored and improved – not just in terms of what we deliver, but also how we deliver.
Figure 1. A sheep contemplates the UN report whilst providing natural fertilizer for the flowers.
That all sounds wonderful … now, let’s parse his claims.
Here are the successes that he highlights:
1. The UN website launched a new section of its website, called “Greening the Blue“. It seems to be dedicated to the proposition that if you can’t do it yourself, you should tell others to do it.
2. A new UN building in Nairobi, Kenya, has 6,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof, and is rated (not measured but rated) at 515 kilowatts of power. No word on the cost, but it looks like a bureaucrat’s palace …
3. They have created a new bureaucratic position, “UN Senior Advisor on Sustainability”, at the usual high rate of pay and perks. This is in addition to their existing positions, such as the “Senior Advisor on Sustainable Development”, and the “Technical Advisor,Population & Sustainable Development”, and the “Advisor on Sustainable Water Development and Management”, and the “Second Committee Advisor on Sustainable Development”, and the “Consultant, Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development”, and …
The Senior Advisor post has been filled by a woman named Julie MacKenzie. Prior to this position, she had been an Environmental Management Coordinator and Climate Neutrality Advisor” for the FAO and an “Adviser” of an unspecified flavor for the UNEP. I cannot find a biography … classic faceless bureaucrat.
4. Mr. Ki-moon handed out a prize to one of the UN programmes for being really really good guys.
5. They put together a “Strategic Plan”, which is no doubt very strategic, and probably chock-full of brilliant plans.
6. He said that the UN is committed to leading by example … do you feel better now?
You may notice that in all of that, Mr. Ki-moon neglected to point out how much the UN has reduced their CO2 emissions …
… and there is a very good reason for him saying nothing about that:
UN CO2 emissions in 2009: 1.7 million tonnes.
UN CO2 emissions in 2010: 1.8 million tonnes
So if they didn’t reduce their emissions in the slightest, what did they do?
Well, they held a photo competition looking for “images reflecting the theme ‘Visions of a sustainable UN’ “. Here’s the winner:
That works, shut the lid and be done with the UN, sounds eminently sustainable to me …
PS—There was one other achievement noted in their report, viz:
Once again, the UN office at Geneva invited hundreds of sheep to graze the grasslands surrounding the Palais des Nations. The sheep cut the grass in an ecologically sustainable manner whilst providing natural fertilizer for the grass and flowers to grow in spring.
“Whilst”? Who says “whilst” these days? In any case, trust the UN to boast about inventing animal husbandry …