Latin America and the Caribbean’s Race to Zero

By Climate Champions | October 24, 2023

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) stand at a pivotal crossroads in the story of global climate action. With vast landscapes, wealth of biodiversity and unique position as a powerhouse for food production and critical minerals, the region is ripe with potential. As the world races towards a net zero emissions future, discover the region’s opportunities and challenges.

LAC’s environmental and economic landscape

LATAM’s vast terrains, from the dense Amazon rainforest to the soaring Andes mountains, play a crucial role in global carbon sequestration. However, the region’s emissions statistics are concerning: over 52 percent arise from land use and agriculture, with energy production from coal and fossil fuels following closely. Given the water-intensive nature of these sectors and the threats of climate change, the call for systemic transformation has never been louder.

Milestones achieved

  1. Energy transition: LAC is not just transitioning but revolutionizing its energy sector – more than a quarter of primary energy in the region currently comes from renewables, twice the global average. Aiming for environmental conservation and community wellbeing, the region is on track to create 15 million new jobs and elevate its GDP by 1 percent by 2030.
  2. Nature-based Solutions: With a strategic focus on sustainable land management, LAC is making headway in curtailing deforestation, especially those driven by commodities. The rejuvenation of degraded lands is also a top priority, ensuring regional resilience.
  3. Policy momentum: Of the 35 LAC countries that ratified the Paris Agreement, many are making significant strides. Countries like Chile, Colombia, and Costa Rica are setting the gold standard. However, while the Race to Zero boasts 929 members from the LAC region, a deeper dive reveals challenges. For instance, only 24 companies set science-based targets in 2022, indicating a need for broader corporate engagement.

Navigating the hurdles

  1. Policy implementation: Commitments are just the starting point. The real challenge lies in execution. For instance, while several countries have shown commitment, only seven, including powerhouses like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, have a Framework Law on Climate Change in place.
  2. Private sector dynamics: The private sector’s role is undeniable. However, with only 7 percent of the Race to Zero membership hailing from LAC, there’s a clear gap. The recent departure of 560 members with the B Corp climate collective’s exit further underscores this challenge.
  3. Shifting the narrative: The focus should not just be on emissions but also on adaptation and sustainable development goals.

The path ahead

To build on existing momentum, the Climate Champions Team have set out key priorities:

  • Awareness drive: Given the region’s acute vulnerability to climate change, efforts are being ramped up to elevate awareness and action. The goal is clear: by 2024, LAC aims to have over 1,200 active members in the Race to Zero, a significant leap from the current 929.
  • Membership boost: Strategic initiatives are underway to attract more members, targeting underrepresented sectors and regions.
  • Robust implementation: We will work hard with our partners to ensure that members are equipped with the resources, capacity and infrastructure to stick to our criteria and swiftly and decisively implement plans.

join the race to zero

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