Latin American countries are now leading the fight against climate change
Latin America and the Caribbean are among the places most at risk of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) released in early November 2014. The collapse of the Caribbean coral biome, the disappearance of glaciers, a rise in sea levels, and the risks associated with the dieback of the Amazon rainforest are just some of the anticipated climate change effects.
That explains why Latin American citizens and their leaders are worried about global warming. At the last UN meeting, some of these leaders underlined the “insufficient” progress made to address these issues.
For example, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Dominica, Francine Baron, spoke about the recent devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika and also urged the international community to take preventative action. Baron said:
"Climate change is a major threat posed to our planet that has a disproportionately high impact on small island developing states (SIDS).”
After thanking the international community for its relief support, she said they would now build a “stronger and more climate resilient Dominica.”
Suriname was also represented at the general debate by its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Niermala Badrising, who said climate change is high on the government’s national agenda.
“Although Suriname is the smallest South American country, we are housing about 8 per cent of the world's untouched tropical forest,” he declared. “With approximately 94 per cent of rainforest covering our country, we can proudly inform this Assembly of Nations that we are the greenest nation on Earth.”
Although Latin American countries don't rank among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, they are playing an active role at the U.N. climate change talks and some are already taking steps to reduce their emissions as part of their pre-2020 voluntary pledges. With less than two months before the world’s leaders convene in Paris for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 119 pledges have been already uploaded to the United Nation's website.
If implemented, the plans would limit average temperature rises to 2.7C above pre-industrial times by 2100, according to a Climate Action Tracker (CAT) set out by four European research groups.
Here's what some of the most important Latin American countries pledged:
"Argentina has a very significant biodiversity resulting from the vast territory with a large range of latitudes and altitudes with different geomorphologic, climatic and edaphological characteristics."
It has pledged 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 relative to a business-as-usual scenario.
"The social dimension is at the core of Brazil's adaptation strategy, bearing in mind the need to protect vulnerable populations from the negative effects of climate change and enhance resilience."
Brazil intends to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent below 2005 levels in 2025.
"Mexico is a country committed to address climate change, as demonstrated by the mitigation and adaptation actions undertaken over the last few years in a systematic way and supported mainly with national resources"
Mexico is committed to unconditionally reduce 25 percent of its Greenhouse Gases and Short Lived Climate Pollutants emissions (below BAU) for the year 2030. Moreover, the reduction commitment could increase up to a 40% in a conditional manner, subject to a global agreement addressing important topics including international carbon price, technical cooperation or access to low-cost financial resources and technology transfer, all at a scale commensurate to the challenge of global climate change.
And what about US?
United States is the biggest historical carbon emitter. However, it intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below its 2005 level by 2025. It will also make efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.