December 15, 2009 / 9:23 PM / 10 years ago

U.N. comes clean on emissions, vows reduction

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Tuesday that it produces nearly 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, but it vowed to reduce the climate-harming gases it spews into the atmosphere.

“The U.N. emits the equivalent of 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, of which approximately 1 million tons comes from peacekeeping operations,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.

“This inventory is a first step in cutting back emissions,” he said. “The U.N. will now work towards a common approach on emission reduction and also towards emission reduction strategies for each U.N. institution.”

There are nearly 50 U.N. bodies and agencies spread across the planet.

The U.N. announcement came as ministers and negotiators from 193 countries struggled at a summit in Copenhagen to salvage agreement on a new U.N. climate pact.

The U.N.’s annual CO2 emissions are slightly less than the combined average for 90,000 U.S. citizens, according to U.N. per-capita figures for U.S. emissions in 2006.

Based on a report on CO2 emissions by the U.N. Environment Program, the average U.N. employee accounts for the release of roughly 8.3 tons of CO2 equivalents each year. That is less than half of the 19.7 tons the average American produces.

While it emits far fewer greenhouse gases than major industrial polluters, the United Nations does produce more CO2 than some large multinational corporations.

U.S.-based coffee chain Starbucks (SBUX.O) emitted 913,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents in fiscal 2007, according to the company’s website.

The U.N. headquarters in New York is in the midst of a roughly $2 billion renovation partly designed to make the world body’s Manhattan skyscraper more energy-efficient and drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Paul Simao

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