New ‘cool’ initiative to slash UN’s own emission of greenhouse gases

30 July 2008 – In a bid to have the United Nations lead by example, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today unveiled “Cool UN,” a three-pronged initiative which seeks to limit the use of air conditioning, slash greenhouse gas emissions and save money.

The new programme – which will begin this Friday – will raise the thermostats at the Secretariat building in New York by five degrees from 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit in most parts of the landmark building, and will shut down the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems over the weekend.

“We have succeeded in moving climate change to the top of the international agenda for action, and this means that the UN must take action itself,” said Mr. Ban.

The one-month-long scheme during August is expected to cut the UN’s carbon dioxide emissions by 300 tons, a 10 per cent reduction in energy consumption for the air conditioning systems. This will also result in savings of more than $100,000 by cutting back on the use of steam by over 4,000 million pounds.

As part of “Cool UN,” the Secretary-General is encouraging both personnel and delegates to dress less formally, including by having men leave their ties off. “Let us have some fun – while at the same time we make a contribution to reducing global emissions,” he said.

Depending on how successful the scheme is, the project could be extended, with the thermostats being lowered 5 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months.

“We estimate that the monthly winter reduction would be somewhat larger than the monthly summer reduction,” Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan (CMP), told reporters today.

He said that the initiative could save the UN some $1 million annually and slash its carbon dioxide emissions by 2,800 tons.

“Cool UN” will only go into effect in New York, given that climate conditions vary from duty station to duty station, according to Janos Pasztor, Director of Mr. Ban’s Climate Change Support Team.

The UN’s Nairobi offices are not air-conditioned, while Geneva’s offices are cooled for only a few days out of the year, he said.

Mr. Pasztor said that negotiations to conclude a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol must continue, “but we also need to reflect on our lifestyles and the way we live and the way we work.”

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