Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Each year UN System agencies and programmes collect data on their facilities and operations in order to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions. The UN System strives to decrease these emissions and offset any emissions that are unavoidable.


Results in 2018


A total of 66 UN entities, which cover 255,741 personnel worldwide, submitted data to the 2017 greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

In total, the UN System’s facilities and operations emitted 1.86 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq) in 2017. This inventory excludes optional emissions that lay outside the boundaries of the UN inventory.

Per capita emissions for the entire UN System were 7.26 tCO2eq, although this varied between entities, ranging from 3 to 42 tCO2eq.

For the third consecutive year, facilities-related emissions were the most significant source of greenhouse gas emissions for the UN System, comprising 44% of the total. Air travel contributed 42% of the System’s emissions and other travel-related emissions accounted for 14% – the latter referring to travel by land and sea. That said, air travel was the main source of emissions for most UN entities, accounting for over 90% of entity emissions in some cases.

Field Missions accounted for over 55% of total UN emissions, followed by the World Bank Group (10%) and WFP, UNICEF and UNDP (4% each). These entities also have the largest number of personnel, making up about 70% of the UN System.

Throughout the years, it has been possible to observe the increasing commitment as well as the knowledge and understanding of participating entities, their Focal Points, green teams and staff. Only full reporting leads to emission reductions and climate neutrality, thus the improvement of this first activity (i.e. measuring) is crucial. From 2016 to 2017 32 entities, which is almost half of the reporting entities, reduced their emissions from travel, facilities or both. We are excited to see this trend increase.

To learn more about how the UN’s greenhouse gas emissions data is calculated, please read our methodology.


Case studies


UNICEF’s Haiti office became their first country office to go 100% solar, avoiding the release of 155 tonnes of CO2 and pollutants into the air every year. Read more…

UN Nepal goes solar with the installation of 426 photovoltaic panels and a 204-kilowatt hour lithium battery. It is anticipated that this will save US$26,000 on electricity bills and 52 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Read more…

In an effort to reduce its environmental footprint, whilst simultaneously making financial savings, WFP developed an Energy Efficiency Programme. With the projects co-funded so far, WFP expects to achieve savings of US$720,000 and more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Read more…

Read other energy-related case studies from across the UN System here.


Click here for a full version of the greenhouse gas emissions table.


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