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LatAm in Focus: Why the Paris Agreement Spells Wins for Latin America

A melting glacier in Peru

Peru's melting glaciers. (AP)

July 06, 2017

Forest fires in Chile, floods/mudslides in Colombia & Peru. @GuyEdwards tells how LatAm should act on climate chang
Latin America could receive $1 trillion in clean energy investments by 2040. Podcast w/@ClimateDevLab's Guy Edwards

Earlier this year, El Niño hit Peru hard: flooding claimed dozens of lives and left 700,000 homeless across the country. That type of phenomenon has become more frequent in recent decades, with scientists saying sea temperatures off the coast of Peru are slowly warming, sparking more extreme weather patterns. Meanwhile, in Chile, the country’s National Emergency Bureau tracked 100 active fires covering about 920 square miles in January. "We have never seen anything on this scale, never in the history of Chile," said President Michelle Bachelet.

There is no getting away from the fact that Latin America is extremely vulnerable to climate change.

These examples point to the fact that Latin American countries are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather and drastic environmental changes, even though they only contribute 9 percent of the carbon emissions causing global warming. The Paris Agreement offers these countries an opportunity to engage larger players like China and Europe on the issue of emissions reductions while opening doors to a new economy, says Guy Edwards, a research fellow at Brown University’s Institute for the Environment and Society. As he explained to AS/COA Online’s Luisa Leme: “If we look at the shift globally towards renewables, when we look at the vast sums being invested by the Chinese and the Europeans and the focus on sustainable infrastructure by multilateral banks, Latin American countries can make themselves more competitive by implementing the Paris Agreement.” Edwards notes that the region could receive $1 trillion in clean energy investments by 2040, supported in part by aid from Canadian and EU climate change programs.

Despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the pact, the opportunities aren’t lost on Latin America leaders, with Colombia being the most recent country in the region to ratify the pact.