Panama calls for global solidarity on climate

By Giovanna Ferullo M.

Panama City, Oct 29 (EFE).- Panama, one of only three countries with sub-zero net emissions of carbon dioxide, will argue at the United Nations climate summit that developed economies need to do more to fund the efforts of poor nations to battle climate change.

“We have the moral authority to say to the historically more-polluting countries, and also to the countries that have many resources, to assist countries on the path of the development with climate financing because it costs, and the resources are limited,” Environment Minister Milciades Concepcion told Efe ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

Panama recently joined Bhutan and Suriname in the carbon-negative category. Thanks in great part to extensive forests, all three countries pull more CO2 out of the atmosphere than they emit.

Another way that Panama is “giving the world an example,” Concepcion said, is in the matter of protecting bodies of water.

While the UN set a target of extending environmental protection to at least 30 percent of the world’s bodies of water by 2030, Panama achieved that goal this year, the minister said.

The Central American nation of 4.28 million people has also designated a third of its land area of just over 75,500 sq km (29,150 sq mi) as protected, he said.

All of this “gives us strength to be heard in all of the events of COP26,” Concepcion said. “And the message of Panama is for all the world’s countries to join forces to accomplish better financing for programs and projects to reduce greenhouse emissions in the most vulnerable countries on the planet.”

He pointed to the imperative for regional cooperation.

“If there is a commitment of $100 billion from the developed countries to support the countries that have less, then let’s obtain the most we can as a bloc, at the Central American level, at the Latin American level. The most we can,” the environment minister said.

That $100 billion pledge, which dates from 2009, has yet to fully materialize, and one of the objectives of the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 summit in Scotland is to secure a reliable funding stream for climate mitigation.

“Cooperation is what will allow us to achieve the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals,” Concepcion told Efe.

The Panamanian government backs the movement by indigenous peoples around the world demanding that wealthy nations underwrite the cost of preserving forests, he said.

“In Panama a great percentage of the forests are located on indigenous lands,” the minister said. “Let’s recall that the forests are what absorb the CO2 and that’s why Panama is carbon-negative, because we continue to preserve 65 percent of our forests.”

Panamanians are only too aware of the effects of climate change, felt here in the form of droughts and flooding of unprecedented severity.

A year ago, rains associated with Hurricanes Eta and Iota caused “floods and landslides in the Chiriqui Highlands, which left more than 20 deaths. We never saw that before in this country,” Concepcion said.

“There are also prolonged droughts … and we have the sea-level rise,” the minister added. “Already the populations of certain islands of San Blas (in Panama’s Caribbean waters) are relocating to the mainland.” EFE


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