When it comes to the commitments pledged by the countries in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), it’s clear that we still have a long way to go to meet the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. This situation urges us to include all sectors in finding innovative solutions.
For almost a decade, we at UNDP have been exploring how to give more space to the private sector in climate action, most recently with the assistance of the NDC Support Programme and the Climate Promise. Governments in Latin America have promoted voluntary carbon footprint programmes as one such solution, funnelling spontaneous, voluntary efforts from the public and private sectors to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions onto platforms where such actions can be quantified and recognized. There is much to learn from this experience.
Countries such as Chile, Peru and Panama have tangible experiences and achievements to share promoting the quantification, monitoring and management of GHG emissions. These carbon footprint initiatives provide online emissions calculators, together with a system of public recognition by means of approval awards for organizations that report, reduce or ideally make their GHG emissions net zero.
It’s worth taking stock of how such interventions have managed to reinforce resilience, especially in the face of an unexpected crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some highlights from our work to reduce the carbon footprint of the private sector in the region.
- The pioneering programme in the region is Huella Chile (Chile Footprint), which has received continued support from UNDP since 2012 and was formally established in 2014. To date, it has registered 1,468 organizations and has awarded 904 seals of recognition, including seals for GHG quantification, reduction, neutrality and excellence. In addition, it has trained more than 3,000 people in the effects of climate change and in GHG management. Newer innovations include a water footprint for municipalities (community recognition system) and a gender equality seal.
- Reduce Tu Huella Corporativo (Reduce Your Corporate Footprint), the most recent initiative in the region, promoted by the Government of Panama since 2021, has reached 71 registered organizations. It establishes a standardized process to identify, calculate, report and verify information related to GHG within public, private and civil society organizations. It also includes a component to reduce the water footprint of organizations, seeking to improve the management of their water resources and link it to strategies for adaptation to climate change.
- Peru, as part of its 2030 NDC mitigation plan and inspired by the Huella Chile programme, launched Huella de Carbono Perú (Peru Carbon Footprint). It currently has 567 organizations registered and has issued 267 recognition stamps. Between 2018 and 2020, a total of 377,782 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) have been neutralized from participating companies on a voluntary basis. Considering that Huella Peru platform only represents 2.2 percent of reported emissions, we can see clearly the potential of this work for establishing a clear and concrete mechanism for climate neutrality.