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Latin America reaches Germany's climate summit with uneven progress

Latin America reaches Germany's climate summit with uneven progress

Difficult to measure and uneven in its scope are the advances that the Latin American countries will show, with respect to their voluntary commitments to reduce polluting emissions, during the climate summit that the German city of Bonn will host in November.

The so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are considered as a whole insufficient for the goal of stabilizing the rise in global temperature at two degrees Celsius.

But they are also debated between contradictory policies, such as sharpening the extraction of hydrocarbons and at the same time promoting the use of renewable energy.

“There are advances in commitments, although it is a bit difficult to say how they are going. It is not that easy to measure. It depends on the ability of each government to do so. Some countries have more transparency and detail than others, ”Lisa Viscini, director of the Energy, Climate Change and Extractive Industries Program of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based organization, told IPS.

Throughout 2015, the 195 States party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) presented their NDCs, with their voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), which were incorporated into the binding Agreement from Paris, in December of that year.

The historic agreement was established as a conclusion to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the UNFCCC, held in the French capital, and formally signed the following April, at a special meeting of the United Nations in New York.

The scientific analysis platform Climate Action Monitoring (CAT), of three European research centers, classifies Costa Rica's proposal as "compatible" with the commitment of the Paris Agreement to keep the global increase at two degrees Celsius. temperature.

But that same monitoring classifies as "insufficient" those of Brazil, Mexico and Peru; from “highly insufficient” that of Argentina and “critically insufficient” that of Chile, the countries of the region included in their analysis.

In Brazil, the largest regional polluter, the researchers point out that the economic recession that the country has endured since 2014 has slowed the increase in its GHG emissions, which are projected in line with its NDC targets.

But, the CAT points out, that country set unambitious goals in mitigating climate change, so its emissions in most sectors could still rise until at least 2030, and still meet the commitments assumed.

“Recent developments in energy infrastructure planning and the increasing levels of deforestation, which are estimated to have added some 130 million tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide), are evidence of the worsening of the application of Brazil's national climate policy, in the opposite direction to what is necessary "to materialize the Paris Agreement", indicates his analysis.

The Brazilian goal in its NDC is to reduce GHG emissions by 37 percent by 2025 and 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2005.

In Mexico, the second largest regional polluter, it is estimated that the currently implemented policies will result in emissions greater than the 2020 and 2030 targets, indicating that that country needs to take more measures to meet its objectives.

Mexico, which pledged to cut its total emissions by 25 percent by 2030, compared to those registered in 2013, "should consider establishing a goal for 2025, consistent with a commitment cycle for five years," CAT analysts recommend .

The country would achieve this by reducing GHG by 22 percent and black carbon by 51 percent - soot released from diesel transportation and electricity generation with fuel oil - in that same year.

Under current policies, Argentine emissions from all sectors would grow roughly 50 percent by 2030, above 2010 levels.

The commitment to reduce emissions stands at 483 million tons in 2030, which in practice means an increase of 22 percent compared to 2010 levels or 74 percent over 1990.

The Chilean goal promises to reduce gases by 30 percent by 2030, below 2007 levels, but equivalent to an expansion of 222 percent compared to 1990 and 75 percent above 2010, highlights the CAT.

“Under the NDC targets, emissions will continue to grow between 38 and 75 percent. Although current policies confine gases to their unconditional goal, a growing number of ambitious policies are needed to control emissions to their conditional goal, ”he cites his analysis.

The Paris Agreement stipulates that the Transparency Mechanism must provide a clear understanding of climate change measures, including monitoring progress towards achieving the NDCs, with good practices, priorities, needs and challenges.

At COP21 in Paris, governments agreed that in 2018 they would define the ways to achieve the objectives of the agreement and encourage each nation to increase its commitments in the NDC.

During the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, from November 6 to 17, nations will continue that search.

For Carlos Rittl, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of 37 Brazilian environmental organizations, there is a risk that Brazil will not meet the goals.

“There are negative signs about the certainty that Brazil will move towards a low carbon economy, that it will meet its goals. There are many setbacks that cast doubt on the government's intention to comply with its commitments, ”he told IPS.

In 2015, Brazil released 486 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, Mexico released 472 million, Argentina 191 million; Venezuela, 178 million; Chile, 81 million, and Colombia, almost 81 million.

The region contributes five percent of the planet's GHGs, according to data from UN Environment, the agency responsible for implementing the UNFCCC. But he warns that the burning of fossil fuels and emissions for the manufacture of cement will inflate that percentage.

For Sean Gilbert, director of Outreach, Membership and the non-governmental NDC Alliance, there is a lack of clarity on how governments will reach the goals. “There are no gradual goals. There is a lack of specificity and routes to the goals, ”the head of the organization that brings together governments and institutions in pursuit of the NDCs told IPS.

“Some countries will not reach their goals, which are also not enough, more needs to be done. To avoid climate change, we cannot keep using oil for 100 years, it has to stop. Some countries are developing long-term strategies. But there is not enough money, ”Viscini said.

With its 2026 Energy Expansion Plan, Brazil aims for 48 percent of the energy matrix to come from renewable sources in that year, excluding hydroelectricity, while Mexico seeks to generate 25 percent of clean energy by 2018, 35 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2050.

Argentina set a goal of covering eight percent of electricity demand with renewable sources by the end of 2017 and 20 percent in 2025. Meanwhile, Chile, with Law 20/25, hopes to generate 20 percent with a renewable base by 2025.

"There is nothing certain about what we will do after 2020 differently from what Brazil does today, such as GHG inventories or annual emissions estimates," Rittl said.

“We defend that the matrix tends towards progressive‘ decarbonisation ’, so that by 2050 it will be 100 percent renewable or highly renewable, with solar and wind energy,” he added.

Gilbert suggests that public and private investment in countries be made compatible with the NDCs and, also, "abandon contradictory policies, such as subsidizing fossil fuels."

By Emilio Godoy

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez


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