Following World Environment Day and the Summit of the Americas in early June, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has proudly published our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data from fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021. Now that we have three years of emissions data, and two years after our baseline, we can see some exciting overall trends.
From 2019 to 2020, PADF saw a decrease in total emissions by 8.2% across all activity scopes. From 2020 to 2021, PADF saw a decrease in total emissions by 37.3% across all activity scopes. Overall, since the baseline measurements, PADF has achieved a reduction of its carbon footprint by 42.2%. We are proud of these results and are in the process of finalizing our 2022-2025 Climate Action Plan to ensure we maintain these emission reductions in the years to come.
Diving deeper into the data, one can make some exciting observations. Below is my analysis of some of these observations:
1. Scope 2 and 3.6 emissions declined significantly while scope 1 increased
The declines in scopes 2 and 3.6 are a logical result of the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns of 2020 and 2021. During those fiscal years, PADF reduced in-office work and restricted travel. Understandably, with the restrictions lifted, we are expecting these emissions to increase in FY 2022 and FY 2023, but we are drafting organization-wide policies to ensure our emissions do not bounce back up to pre-pandemic levels. We have learned during the pandemic that we can successfully carry out our work without as much international travel and working face-to-face in our offices. We will continue to implement workplace and project management best practices in the coming years that limit our electricity and business travel emissions while executing our projects at the highest level.
What surprised me with this data was how much scope 1 emissions increased. In 2019, our scope 1 emissions were 38 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), a mere 3% of our emissions that year. But in 2020, they surged to 256 tCO2e, and in 2021 a slight decline to 198 tCO2e, making up 28.9% of our emissions. We will have to be mindful that scope 1 emissions are a significant part of our total footprint; only focusing on scope 2 and scope 3.6 initiatives to reduce our emissions will not be enough.
2. Scope 3.6 is a declining share of our total footprint
In 2019, our scope 3.6 emissions were 66% of our total footprint. In 2020, scope 3.6 made up 55.5% of our emissions, and in 2021 only 40.4%. This declining share is a combined result of a decline in scope 3.6 emissions and an increase in scope 1 emissions (the share of scope 2 emissions in our total footprint has remained relatively consistent). This observation is important because it reminds us that our initiatives to reduce emissions cannot only be focused on business travel, but also scopes 1 and 2. It also serves as an important reminder that measuring this data each year is essential because the numbers may change in ways that we need to be aware of in the years to come.
3. Our improved method of measuring scopes 1 and 2 in 2020 and 2021 is paying off (but we have more work to do)
In 2019, we were only able to use “amount spent” as a proxy to measure all three of our scopes. However, for our 2020 and 2021 data, we gathered data from our country offices for scope 1 in the volume of different fuel types and scope 2 in kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity used. We believe scope 1 emissions now make up a much larger share of our footprint because of this improved data collection that was most likely underreported in our 2019 baseline measurement. Our country office teams are quickly becoming more familiar with collecting and reporting their scope 1 and 2 activities with these more accurate units. We are also building into our Climate Action Plan initiatives to measure scope 3.6 more accurately with miles traveled and plans to measure new scopes such as emissions from employee commute and procurement.
4. We still have a lot of work to do to tackle emissions from HQ
In 2019, our HQ office was responsible for 64% of our total emissions. In 2020, it was responsible for 48.3%, and in 2021, 32.7%. While that share has declined, the HQ office is still responsible for the largest footprint. This is despite the fact that the Colombia office is more than two and a half times bigger than the HQ office. Therefore, it is critical to focus on reducing the HQ office’s emissions-generating activities. The scope that is the most important focus for the HQ office is scope 3.6. Over the three years, between 50-81% of the HQ emissions were due to business travel. This means that as travel restrictions lift, HQ staff could return to pre-pandemic travel behaviors that could have big consequences for PADF’s footprint. For this reason, the scope 3.6 emission reduction initiatives of the Climate Action Plan are vital.
5. Haiti’s scope 1 emissions are now an organization-wide priority
Looking at our 2019 emissions measurement alone, emissions attributed to the Haiti office were only 6% of the total emissions. In 2020 and 2021, the Haiti office accounted for 26.9% and 28.1% respectively of PADF’s total emissions. Haiti shot up from the fourth most emissions-producing office to a close second behind the HQ office. Therefore, emissions from the Haiti office must now be a top priority for PADF. Uniquely, unlike the HQ office in 2021 where 81% of the HQ emissions were due to business travel, for the Haiti office’s 2021 emission, 90.8% were due to scope 1 emissions. Working with the Haiti office to reduce fuel use, mainly a result of diesel-powered generators, will do a lot of good to reduce PADF’s overall emissions.