UNEP’s Annual Report Highlights Advances in Phasing Out Single-use Plastics, Cutting Cooling and Heating Emissions
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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The Annual Report outlines UNEP’s work on climate change, cutting cooling and heating emissions, and disasters and conflicts, among other issues.

UNEP and the WHO hosted the first global conference on air pollution.

Fifty-seven countries, covering over 60% of the world’s coastlines, signed onto UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign, which addresses marine litter.

Through the District Energy in Cities Initiative, UNEP supports renewable energy and energy efficiency in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sectors in 16 countries.

7 March 2019: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) published its 2018 Annual Report, which details UNEP’s work on: climate change; cutting cooling and heating emissions; disasters and conflicts; building resilience and peace in Darfur, Sudan; protecting a peatland in Central Africa; environmental governance; chemicals and waste; resource efficiency; and environment under review.

The report was released in advance of the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), which convened from 11-15 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The report discusses advances in making the cooling and heating industries more climate-friendly, given that cooling and heating systems consume over 50% of building energy and run primarily on fossil fuels. Through the District Energy in Cities Initiative, UNEP supports renewable energy and energy efficiency in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sectors in 16 countries. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second-largest city, Banja Luka, the Initiative partnered with the city, the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to provide a district heating network that runs on locally sourced biomass, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 91% and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 94%.

In the Indian city of Thane, two projects could save 30,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2eq), phase out harmful refrigerants and save customers money. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which had 65 ratifications by the end of 2018, is also helping to make the cooling industry more climate-friendly by reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 80%.

In 2019, UNEP will focus on promoting the circular economy, mobilizing science and data, promoting greener cities and supporting renewable energy.

In 2018, UNEP also prioritized reducing plastic pollution in oceans, helping countries commit to phasing out single-use plastics. World Environment Day 2018 targeted plastic pollution, with India, the Day’s host, pledging to phase out single-use plastics by 2022. Other countries and companies made similar commitments, with, for example, the EU proposing a ban on ten single-use plastic items representing 70% of marine litter by 2025. Fifty-seven countries, covering over 60% of the world’s coastlines, signed onto UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign, which addresses marine litter.

In addition, the report highlights that:

  • 127 countries adopted legislation to regulate plastic bags;
  • 63 countries have mandates for producer responsibility for single-use plastics, including deposit refunds, product take back and recycling targets;
  • 30 countries charge consumers fees for plastic bags; and
  • 27 countries instituted taxes on plastic bag production.

Among initiatives on financing for sustainable development, 2018 saw 45 banks and financial institutions endorse the Principles for Responsible Banking drafted under the leadership of the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and more than 20 financial centers join the International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) to help align investments with sustainable development and climate action. In collaboration with BNP Paribas, the World Agroforestry Centre and partners. UNEP also launched a USD 95 million Tropical Landscapes Bond, which will restore 80,000 hectares of tropical forests in Indonesia.

In 2018, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted the first global meeting on air pollution, and continued supporting cleaner transport, including the development of national strategies on electric mobility in several Latin American countries.

UNEP supported South-South cooperation to help save the Cuvette Central Peatlands in the Congo Basin, which stores the carbon equivalent of three years of global emissions. The Brazzaville Declaration, signed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Indonesia, will keep this carbon in the ground. UNEP is also supporting efforts to: reduce and better manage waste in the hotel industry in Jordan; and help countries, such as Saint Lucia, report and track their environmental commitments.

In 2019, UNEP will focus on promoting the circular economy, mobilizing science and data, promoting greener cities and supporting renewable energy. [Publication: UNEP Annual Report 2018] [UNEP News Story]


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