NAIROBI, August 1 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday launched a new campaign, “Cool UN,” that will reduce the use of air conditioning, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and save money, starting with the body’s headquarters in New York.
The campaign calls for raising the thermostats in most parts of the UN Secretariat Building from 22.2-25 °C and from 21.1-23.9 °C for the world body’s conference rooms.
The campaign, which will run on a trial basis for the month of August, also involves a shutdown of the building’s heating ventilation and air conditioning system over the weekends and a relaxation of the generally formal dress code in place among diplomats and staff at the UN.
UN Secretary-General Ban said, “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. We must lead by example and if we are to ask others to take action, we must do so as well.”
During the month of August, “Cool UN” will save approximately 4,400 million pounds of steam, equivalent to 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
It will also produce a cash savings of approximately $100,000 since less steam will be purchased.
This marks the first time the dress code will be relaxed at UN Headquarters.
At last December’s Bali Climate Change Conference, formal negotiations were held in more casual attire and at the upcoming climate change negotiations later this month, in Accra, Ghana, conference participants have been invited to dress more comfortably.
If the experiment is successful, the initiative could be extended beyond August.
During the winter months, the process could be reversed and staff and delegates could be asked to dress warmer, which would also reduce energy consumption, emissions and heating costs.
The Secretary-General has called on all parts of the UN system to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Several agencies, including the UN Environment Programme, UNCTAD and UNIDO, have moved toward becoming climate-neutral.