COP26: Latin America’s lack of climate unity

By Ares Biescas Rue

International Desk, Nov 2 (EFE).- Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the climate crisis, facing annual hurricanes and some of the worst droughts on the planet, but it lacks unity in the face of the challenge.

Perhaps the only unifying factor put forward by Latin American nations at this year’s United Nations climate conference, the COP26 in Glasgow, is the demand that richer countries foot the bill of the fight against global warming by mobilizing the $100 billion agreed in the Paris Agreement.

Brazil and Mexico, Latin America’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, are in the focus at this year’s summit, as scrutiny is heaped on the lack of progress in their climate pledges.

“The governments of Latin America want very different things,” Chilean Maisa Rojas, one of the authors of the last report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells Efe. “Historically there hasn’t been a common position.”

This variation in policies is evident in the Nationally Determined Contributions, in which each country presents its approach to curbing global warming.

“Not all Latin American countries have registered their NDCs (this year), and Brazil and Mexico haven’t improved on their pledges since the Paris Agreement in 2015,” Rojas adds.

NDCs provide a vital guideline in the campaign to curb climate change.

Colombia, for example, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, said it aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 51%, end deforestation and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

According to a report from the World Wildlife Fund, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Suriname have the most ambitious climate pledges.

But the region’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases are outliers, too, in their climate commitments.

While scientists almost unanimously agree that global climate goals can only be achieved with a shift away from fossil fuels, Mexico’s proposed energy reform would relegate wind and solar power.

Brazil, which has sent a delegation to the COP26 without its president Jair Bolsonaro, said it is committed to preserving the Amazon but would not curtail road construction and mining in the world’s largest rainforest.

These issues are not exclusive to Brazil and Mexico.

Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso insists that development projects that exploit natural resources can be carried out without damaging the environment. But are such projects really compatible?

“No, they are not,” Rojas says, adding that this way of thinking demonstrates a lack of understanding of the climate crisis.

Joseluis Samaniego, director of sustainable development at UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Cepal), tells Efe that a shift to green and sustainable energy stimulates the economy.

“Not only is it cheaper in terms of megawatt per dollar invested, but it creates employment,” he says.

He acknowledges, however, that a shift in energy policy requires investment with money stumped up by the world’s most developed economies.EFE


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