The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), the leading global body of climate experts, warned that global temperatures are expected to rise by 1.5 ºC compared with pre-industrial levels. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (“UN”) said that the situation was a ‘code red’ for humanity and only rapid human intervention could lead to sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The situation in Latin America is particularly concerning as the increase in temperatures in the region is expected to continue at a faster rate than the global average. In addition to the IPCC report, the World Meteorological Organisation published the State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 report on 17 August 2021 and warned that the entire region, from the Andean heights to the Caribbean islands faced an alarming situation. Extreme hydro-meteorological events are predicted to result in energy-related shortages, agricultural losses and displacement which will have a collateral impact on health and security conditions.
A climate and justice department coordinator at a Brazilian NGO commented, “Brazil should feel challenged by the results of the IPCC report. The country ticks all the boxes of having and even promoting the human activities that have a direct influence on global warming: burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, farming livestock etc.”
“Brazil should feel challenged by the results of the IPCC report. The country ticks all the boxes of having and even promoting the human activities that have a direct influence on global warming.”
Climate and justice department coordinator, NGO, Brazil
According to the reports, only significant government action and financial support for emissions reduction policies can have a tangible impact on the fight against global warming in the region despite initiatives from local communities.
Fernando Aragón-Durand, a Mexican consultant on adaptation, vulnerability, risk and public policy believed the focus should be on cities, “Success or failure will depend on what is done or not done in cities across the region. Cities have the highest concentration of human population, productive activities and economic systems and paradoxically, where the greatest poverty, inequality and marginalisation are generated. Latin American cities should invest in resources, technical capabilities and integrated information and data systems to monitor climate risk factors.”
Brazil is a key country when it comes to the global fight against climate change, explained the NGO coordinator, “The Amazon is crucial for emissions reduction but deforestation continues. In July alone, 1,417 square kilometres of the Amazon were destroyed. The federal government and, more specifically, [President Jair] Bolsonaro, must take the blame, they are not negligent but they are guilty of promoting deforestation. The National Congress is also to blame as it refuses to legislate in accordance with international standards that would limit the activities promoting the destruction of the Amazon.”
The Mexican consultant maintained some hope, “Much can be done in the next 10-15 years. The international cooperation route to comply with the Paris Agreement is clear and the countries that have expressed their commitment have already taken action. In Latin America, it must be made clear that climate policies are not seen as environmental policies but are understood as development policies.”
“In Latin America, it must be made clear that climate policies are not seen as environmental policies but are understood as development policies.”
Fernando Aragón-Durand, consultant, Mexico
The UN has called on state governments to make use of forums such as the Regional Getaway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action for Latin America and the Caribbean (“REGATTA”); Climate Transparency; CityAdapt; and Community of Support to National Adaptation Plans (“PNACC”) to coordinate efforts in different policy sectors to efficiently minimise the impact of climate change in the Americas.