Climate change and human health

WHO measures and reports its greenhouse gas emissions


Climate change has been described as the largest threat to human health in the 21st Century (Lancet, 2009) and has been identified as a major threat to human development. It is therefore a priority issue for the UN Secretary-General and for the UN system as a whole.

The United Nations system is committed to implementing the 2007 UN Climate Neutral Strategy, which commits all UN organizations to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. More recently Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked all UN system organizations to become climate neutral by 2020. Find out more on the Greening the Blue website.

Measuring WHO’s emissions

The World Health Organization has been measuring and reporting its greenhouse gas emissions every year since 2009 as part of the UN-wide effort.

The most recent greenhouse gas inventory, published in November 2015, covers the emissions for 2014. It shows that WHO emitted 20,721 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or 9.6 tonnes per head of personnel, a little above the UN average of 8.31 tonnes. Air travel remains the largest contributor to WHO’s climate footprint, accounting for 89% of emissions.

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