Climate Neutrality

The World Food Programme (WFP) is one of ten United Nations (UN) agencies announcing ‘Climate Neutrality’ today. A comprehensive programme that has been helping UN organisations take action against climate change by measuring, reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their operations.

WFP’s commitment to reducing emissions

At WFP, this has meant introducing energy efficient equipment and better systems in even the most remote locations, to reduce consumption of GHG-polluting fossil fuels. These savings also help WFP reduce operating costs, which are often highest in remote areas. 

In Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and limited infrastructure, WFP relies heavily on aircraft, trucks, four-wheel drives and diesel generators to ensure food and staff are in place to deliver life-saving support to 3.5 million people.

In 2008, when WFP began GHG reporting, Afghanistan operations consumed nearly two million litres of diesel fuel. Today, after retrofitting nearly 2,000 energy efficient security floodlights and office lights, installing solar power at remote sites, and using new software to improve fleet management, that figure has reduced by 25 percent and GHG emissions are down by 16 percent.

WFP Afghanistan is not alone. Globally, WFP reduced GHG emissions from operations by nearly 10 percent between 2008 and 2013.

“WFP has consistently acted within this network of over 60 UN organisations as a source of inspiration and advocacy.” -Isabella Marras, coordinator of Sustainable UN

Isabella Marras, coordinator of Sustainable UN, the UNEP team overseeing the Climate Neutral UN initiative, praised WFP’s actions. “WFP has consistently acted within this network of over 60 UN organisations as a source of inspiration and advocacy,” she said. “Their commitment to innovative, cost-effective and smart solutions is helping to manage GHG emissions across hundreds of facilities and very complex logistics operations.”

The three-step Climate Neutral programme, championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seeks to ensure the UN leads by example on climate change, embed a resource-conscious culture throughout the UN and deliver cost savings. It comprises three stages.

1)    Measuring in line with global standards

Since 2008, UN organizations have been reporting GHG emissions from their buildings, refrigeration systems, generators, vehicles, aircraft, commercial air travel and public transport. Participating agencies emit around 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide-equivalent, or CO2e) per year. In 2014, WFP’s share was 166,356 tonnes of CO2e, the third largest behind Department of Peacekeeping Organizations and the World Bank Group.

WFP is one of the few to have footprinted global operations from the very first year, completing yearly footprints since and using the data to identify practical savings in field operations.

2)    Reducing “to the extent possible”

WFP prioritises cost-effective energy efficiencies that reduce costs and emissions simultaneously. Key achievements include:

  • More efficient trucks: A regional fleet of 218 new KAMAZ trucks, generously provided by the Russian Federation for emergencies in Asia and Africa, has improved fuel efficiency by around 30 percent.
  • Smart fleet management: a dedicated Fleet Management System monitors fuel and vehicle usage of 800 trucks and is WFP’s biggest single source of GHG savings. WFP’s 3000 light vehicles, ferrying staff between remote field locations, were added in 2012 and their fuel consumption has fallen 9 percent, due to re-routing, bundling of missions, better maintenance and replacing older vehicles. 
  • Driver training: more than 1700 WFP drivers – plus 700 from partner agencies – have completed a WFP-designed course in fuel-efficient, safe driving.
  • Optimizing Aviation: new software analyses individual routes and aircraft to select the right-sized, most fuel-efficient available aircraft, reducing costs, fuel and GHG emissions with every optimisation achieved.
  • Flying less: Remote delivery of training sessions and in-house meetings has saved at least 220 tonnes of CO2e and more than USD 400,000.
  • No-cost savings: Many offices have cut energy use by at least 20 percent through energy efficiency gains that pay for themselves in weeks or months. In Afghanistan, Nepal, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal staff have downsized equipment, replaced lighting and improved temperature controls and overnight shutdown practices. 
  • Cost-effective investment: WFP’s Energy Efficiency Programme, a UN first that collects an internal ‘tax’ on vehicles, has co-funded 30 projects globally that will save 2,375 tonnes of CO2e and USD 1.3 million per year. 
  • Greening HQ: WFP’s Rome headquarters, accounting for 7 percent of its total, has installed efficient condensing boilers and replaced 7,000 lights. The Italian government-funded “Landmark HQ” refurbishment is seeking Platinum certification under the LEED green building scheme by 2018.

3) Offsetting: emissions not yet avoided

WFP is offsetting emissions for the first time this year. In line with UN strategy, WFP purchases Clean Development Mechanism-certified carbon credits, purchased through the Adaptation Fund. Through this action, WFP recognises that humanitarian actions that save lives today still carry a climate cost tomorrow. Offsetting is one way that we can take responsibility for those impacts while striving to reduce them further.

WFP’s ongoing commitment to lowering climate impacts

Attaining climate neutrality is just a beginning. Emissions must be offset yearly, so WFP remains committed to sustained cuts in emissions and – crucially – to supporting global efforts to find cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuels. Climate change is expected to create up to 20 percent more hungry people by 2050. At the COP 21 climate talks in December, WFP will continue supporting countries that are working to address the impacts of climate change on food security, while highlighting the importance of building climate resilience among the most food insecure and vulnerable people.