Energy

AUDIT: UN Environment Chief Racked Up A Massive Carbon Footprint With ‘Extensive Travel’

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

An internal audit of the United Nations environment chief’s travel found Erik Solheim racked up a massive carbon footprint and airline tab from his “extensive travel patterns” in past years.

Auditors faulted Solheim for “having no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules,” and showed the UN Environment Program head claimed unjustified travel expenses, according to a leaked draft obtained by The Guardian.

The leaked draft report found Solheim traveled for 529 out of 668 days audited. That travel cost more than $488,000 over two years, according to the report, which said the UN chief had “no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules.”

UN auditors said Solheim’s extensive travel hurt the credibility of the UN as a leader on “sustainable environment matters.” The audit said Solheim’s behavior was “contrary to the ethos of carbon emission reduction.” (RELATED: The Western US’s Largest Coal Plant Faces New Threat — No Buyers)

In one instance, Solheim took a weekend trip from the U.S. to Paris and back. Auditors said the UN environment office “did not have policies and incentives for staff to reduce their carbon emissions,” The Guardian reported.

“The extensive travel patterns of [Solheim] did not set an example for the rest of the staff to follow,” reads the audit. “Such extensive travel therefore presents a reputation risk to the organization, especially [given] that Unep is supposed to be the lead on sustainable environment matters.”

Solheim is a major proponent of green energy and “sustainable development.” The UN official regularly tweets about the dangers of man-made global warming and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, including from airline travel.

However, Solheim has also been unapologetic about his extensive travel. In the past, he’s touted his frequent fliers cars with major airlines. Solheim made similar statements to The Guardian about the draft audit.

“Making good on our global agenda demands engagement with the world and indeed an expanded approach to our work,” Solheim told the paper. “I am therefore determined to continue to focus on our mandate to create real results for real people, with real impact on the ground.”

Solheim said he paid back any funds identified by auditors and that new procedures to approve his travel have been put in place.

However, Solheim did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s question of whether or not  he bought carbon offsets for his flights.

U.N. officials and environmentally-conscious individuals often purchase “offsets” for their air travel. Offsets can be used to fund green energy projects, though their actual efficacy in reducing emissions is questionable.

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