UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The United Nations on Wednesday announced a drastic cut of air-conditioning usage at its New York headquarters for the month of August that will raise the temperature from a crisp 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) to a balmy 77.
Under a directive from UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the air-conditioning in the 39-floor Secretariat building will be turned off on weekends.
Assuming the temperature change goes smoothly, the "Cool UN" initiative to cut down on energy costs and implement climate change solutions could be extended for a full year, saving the world body one million dollars and reducing the building's carbon dioxide emissions by 2,800 tonnes.
During the winter, the process would be reversed and the thermostat would be lowered by five degrees Fahrenheit.
"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," Ban said in a statement. "We must lead by example and if we are to ask others to take action, we must do so as well."
As part of the initiative, Ban is encouraging staff, delegates and diplomats to relax clothing protocols and wear lighter attire or don their national dress rather than wear business suits as of August 1.
Asked whether the secretary general would be setting an example in this regard as well, Janos Pasztor, head of the the Secretary General Climate Support Team, told reporters: "He will be wearing lighter clothes as well, he has confirmed that."