What is Latin America at stake at COP26?

Indiscriminate deforestation continues in the Amazon to make room for cattle ranching.
Indiscriminate deforestation continues in the Amazon to make room for cattle ranching.

It is clear, Brazil holds the key to increasing or decreasing gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It is the country in Latin America with the greatest extension of biodiversity -60% of the total in South America-, accompanied by neighbors who share the Amazon (Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador). The government of Jair Bolsonaro increased pollution considerably through deforestation. According to data from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research, chainsaws downed 74% more trees in the first thousand days after Bolsonaro’s inauguration on January 1, 2019, compared to the thousand days before his inauguration. Since then it has increased day by day. As a consequence, in the last two years, the southern Amazon suffered one of the worst droughts in 50 years, affecting Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay.

Bolsonaro is a climate change denier, but he doesn’t want to appear as the only villain in the movie. He will not attend the Glasgow summit, although his Minister for the Environment will a small gift under the arm. the vice president Hamilton Mourao, retired general and head of the Amazon Council, announced this week that Brazil could anticipate its 2030 goal of “zero illegal deforestation” in “one or two years.” Of course, he will ask a lot in return. It seeks that the most developed and polluting countries compensate the country for the economic “losses” that it may suffer for not continuing to conquer Amazonian lands for livestock. At this point, Colombia has already announced that it will accompany him and the other Amazonians will also follow, including Bolivia. “Our country is 50% Amazonian biome. If 80% must be preserved by our legislation and global cooperation to prevent drastic climate change, there are ten Germanies to preserve. And that is why there must be a negotiation to be compensated for that work in favor of the rest of humanity ”, affirmed Hamilton Mourao in a meeting with foreign correspondents.

For Sergio Leitao, director of the Escolhas Institute, which conducts studies on the predatory economic impact in the Amazon, “The speech that Brazil will deliver is cruel.” “Brazil will only ask the world community for help to comply with the Paris Agreement, but at the same time it has money to lend to rural entrepreneurs who cut down through gigantic rural credit schemes launched by public banks every year. The country already has the technologies to target low-carbon production”, He said during an interview with the Argentine news agency Télam.

According to Leitao, the sector that emits the most gases in Brazil is livestock, to the point that the country is the world’s leading exporter of processed meats. “In the Amazon 145 kilograms of carbon (CO2) are emitted per kilo of meat, when in the other regions the average is 23 kilos, “said the director of Escolhas, an entity that investigates contamination from illegal mining and the gold industry.

Indians from the Yawalapiti community of the Xingu reserved park, in Brazil, call for the removal of President Bolsonaro for his support for the deforestation of the Amazon (REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino)
Indians from the Yawalapiti community of the Xingu reserved park, in Brazil, call for the removal of President Bolsonaro for his support for the deforestation of the Amazon (REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino)

In addition, as a world power in biodiversity, Brazil will also carry its position as an emerging country -which he will share with the majority of the region, even with disparate ideologies and political positions- and will say, as announced by the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, that the territory of his country “It adds 1.7% to the pollution flows while China has 30%, the United States 15% and Europe 15%.”

Argentina will also commit at COP26 to reduce emissions of polluting gases in 2% compared to the previous commitment. “This will mean 27.7% more than that presented in 2016,” said Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero. The Argentine goal consists of not exceed 352 megatons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by 2030. Until now, the ceiling was at 359 megatons.

Mexico will lead in Glasgow the generalized Latin American position to demand greater financing so that developing countries can meet their goals to curb global warming. The chancellor Marcelo Ebrard He criticized the lack of commitment of the richest nations in providing funds to tackle climate change. In 2015 there were a global pledge to commit $ 100 billion by 2020 to boost economies less dependent on coal. “Access to resources is not proportional, as corresponds to what each country is generating in emissions. It was announced that there would be 100,000 million dollars to help the poorest countries, but of that money, that we know, nothing has been applied, “he said.

“Every four years that we meet, different announcements are made and then We have not seen the resources. The effort is not proportional. In Latin America we have to make a huge effort to accelerate the pace with respect to the change in energy sources, electromobility, reducing methane gas, but our ability to access resources cannot be compared to that of the United States and the European Union. There has to be an effort to access resources, because nowadays it is not like that ”, said the Mexican minister.

Mexico is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical position. In Veracruz, for example, it is estimated that between 93% and 97% of its jungles and forests were lost, and this left that region very vulnerable to extreme weather events, as happened this year with the hurricane season. And in the north of the country the droughts are becoming more aggressive. This year, a good part of the corn crops were lost, a fundamental food in the diet of Mexicans.

Floods in Iztapalapa, Mexico.  In the Allepetlalli neighborhood, the water rose about a meter and a half.  The poorest neighborhoods are increasingly exposed to the effects of climate change (DANIEL AUGUSTO /CUARTOSCURO.COM)
Floods in Iztapalapa, Mexico. In the Allepetlalli neighborhood, the water rose about a meter and a half. The poorest neighborhoods are increasingly exposed to the effects of climate change (DANIEL AUGUSTO /CUARTOSCURO.COM)

“Mexico’s commitment to the Paris Agreement is made up of mitigation goals for 2030 of reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22% and black carbon use by 51%. If we receive financial support, technology transfers and cooperation in capacity development from the international community, those percentages could be 36% and 70% respectively”, Specified the government secretary for the environment. Mexican environmentalists disagree. “Mexico is not a low-income economy, we are the 13th greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Without adequate climate change policies We will be in 2030 with emissions that may be higher than those of the United Kingdom or Germany or similar to those of Japan”, He warned Jorge Villarreal, Policy Director for the Mexico Climate Initiative (ICM).

According to the Paris Agreement, each country can choose the rate at which they reduce emissions of polluting gases, but they must update their action plans. In Latin America, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala and El Salvador did not submit these reports. “All countries must increase ambition. Latin America depends on its responsibility ”, he assured Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, former Minister of the Environment of Peru who now works for WWF International. “The success of the COP will depend on the countries’ understanding of how the global economy is developing,” he said. And he specified that some of the main debts of the region in terms of climate action are almost total dependence on fossil fuels; scarcity of transport electrification initiatives, with the exception of Chile and Costa Rica, and increased deforestation rates in countries such as Brazil and Bolivia.

The region also maintains a latent danger. Fires associated with the deforestation of large areas of the Amazon can spread various diseases transmitted by viruses, parasites, bacteria and other vectors to urban environments.. These diseases include yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, but also others less well known, such as oropouche and mayaro fevers, explained an international panel of researchers in a report published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases. According to experts, forest fires force the displacement of insects carrying infectious agents, but when they are large, progressive and persistent, they can change the geographical distribution of the vectors of these diseases.

“As the temperature increases, the frequency and severity of these events will also increase”, explained the Argentine scientist Carolina Vera, vice president of one of the work teams of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Globally, “a heat wave that used to occur once in 50 years now occurs five times more frequently; with a warming of 1.5 degrees, it would occur 8.6 times more; with a heating of 2 degrees, 14 times more“, said. And he warned: “In the northern region of South America, which includes the Amazon, the temperature of these heat waves would be on average 1 degree higher with global warming of 2 degrees.”

Historically, the Latin American and Caribbean region is one of the regions that contributed the least to climate change; however, it is one of the regions most vulnerable to its consequences. And it will be more and more. The Pandemic left our countries with very weak economies. In that sense, COP26 brings hope that financing will be increased and carbon markets will be opened to subsidize the technological transformation that we so badly need.


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Helen Hernandez is our best writer. Helen writes about social news and celebrity gossip. She loves watching movies since childhood. Email: Phone : +1 281-333-2229

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