This is a presentation made by Dr. Monica Araya, E3G Senior Associate and adviser to the Ministry of Environment of Costa Rica on climate finance, at the April 8th Brown University Conference on “Latin America and Climate Change: Regional Perspectives on a Global Problem”.

The 19th century British Foreign Secretary, George Canning, is renowned as a great liberal statesman who "called the New World into existence". The current British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has also called for British governments to stop underestimating Latin America and to improve relations with this dynamic and vibrant region. However, as Laurence Allan and I argue in The World Today, British foreign policy towards Latin America needs a drastic makeover, not least if our common goals on climate change and UN reform can bear results.
Perhaps Hague's reflections on past engagement do signal a new stage in British policy. But high level ministerial visits to the region will mean nothing unless the government tries harder to clarify its real intentions and to fix inconsistencies between what it would aspire to do in Latin America, what is actually conceivable, and what it is really doing. In this multi-polar era of interdependence and international realignment, a policy based on the mouldy memoirs of a 19th century empire is inadequate. The coalition government should look beyond this narrow focus if its newfound interest in Latin American is to gain credibility and achieve success on pressing global issues, in tune with British national interests beyond the parameters of Treasury thinking.
By Emily Kirkland, Brown University On December 7th, Brazil announced that the German Development Bank (KFW) had agreed to donate $30.6 million to the Amazon Fund. The Fund, which is managed by the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES), finances anti-deforestation programs in the Amazon. Germany is the second country to contribute to the fund following the Norwegian government which has committed to offering $1 billion over the next four years.
Published in Biodiversity
Sunday, 26 December 2010 11:11

An Incredible Gift

By Kelly Rogers* Global natural gas supply provides incredible potential for a transportation revolution in Latin America, a message highlighted at an event in Cancun, co-hosted by the Worldwatch Institute and the International Gas Union. According to BP, Latin America provides some 5.5% of the world’s natural gas and is estimated to hold at least 6% of its natural gas reserves.

By Guy Edwards and Taryn Martinez*

On the 21st November the World’s Mayors Summit on Climate took place in Mexico City where city leaders highlighted the progressive role played by urban centres on climate change in the face of sloth-like progress by national governments. Pioneering schemes in a number of Latin American cities illustrates how cities can be an ideal avenue to push low carbon development in the region.
By Guy Edwards and Emily Kirkland (Brown University) In the jungle of acronyms and arguments that characterize efforts to confront climate change, it is hard to beat the complexities of REDD+. However, in the Brazilian Amazon a number of pioneering schemes are offering a way out of the melee. REDD+ is shorthand for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, plus forest regeneration and rehabilitation. REDD+ provides developing countries with financial incentives to protect their forests and improve sustainable forest management. The destruction of forests accounts for around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions with most deforestation occurring in the developing world. In Brazil, deforestation represents over 50% of the country’s emissions.
Published in Amazon
At the end of March, the 12th International Energy Forum (IEF) will meet in Cancún, México. The IEF is the world’s largest gathering of energy ministers accounting for more than 90% of global oil and gas supply and demand. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa will also be participating in the Forum. As the FT points out, past disagreements at the International Energy Forum led to oil shocks followed by global recessions. Topics to be discussed at the Forum include assessing the future of supply and demand of oil and gas and identifying barriers that undermine investment. Transparency in the energy sector will also play an important part in the talks. Questions concerning the sustainability of energy policies will also feature strongly with debates taking place on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) development and the eradication of energy poverty. With investment in the region set to rise considerably from Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco Belt to Brazil’s mammoth offshore oil reserves combined with the next big batch of climate change negotiations taking place in México, Latin America will play host to a turbulent fusion of issues surrounding climate change and energy security. It is uncertain whether the advocates of traditional energy resources represented by the IEF can work constructively towards the shift to a low carbon economy in which energy security is compatible with tackling climate change. A report by the IEF on the potential and limitations of biofuels provides a useful reference to ascertain the level of willingness to work together. The report suggests there is ‘an urgent need to review existing biofuel policies’ to avoid causing economic instability and undermining food security. The legitimacy of first generation biofuels, except for the Brazilian case, is questionable and the risk of increasing energy insecurity in the absence of reviewing existing policies is a genuine threat to market stability. On the positive side, the report’s authors, Claude Mandil and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, acknowledge the potential role of biofuels to contribute usefully to energy security and climate protection. Can the world’s ‘old skool’ energy cohort work together with those advocating a rapid transition to clean energy and maximising energy efficiency to save tax-payers' money and reduce carbon emissions? The IEF report would suggest there is sufficient mutual interest to form the basis for working together and building consensus. Yet, the energy sector is an incredibly competitive sector of the global economy with business interests often dictating policy and undermining climate and economic security. This is why the development of an international climate change architecture to light the path for the energy sector towards low carbon growth is urgently required.
Published in Energy
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 00:04

Brazil spices things up in New Delhi

On the 24th January the second meeting of Ministers of the BASIC Group – Brazil, South Africa, India and China - took place in New Delhi, India. The four countries, joined at the last hour by the US, were instrumental in hammering out the controversial Copenhagen Accord at the December climate change conference last year. The recent meeting reconfirmed the four countries´ commitment to working together with all other countries to establish an agreement at the COP-16 in Mexico. The BASIC coalition may be pulling Brazil further away from the rest of Latin America at a time when many are hoping for greater consensus on climate change in the region. However, this may not be a bad thing for the international climate change talks as Brazil´s progressive stance can hopefully rub off positively on both its BASIC partners and other countries. It might also suit Latin American countries but for two very different reasons. For those looking to Brazil for regional leadership on climate change, the BASIC coalition may add prestige and weight to some of Brazil´s demands which are of a similar overture to some of its Amazonian neighbours for example. On the flip side, those Latin American countries happy to resist internalizing climate change as a domestic priority will be content to see Brazil flying the flag far from their own shores. As a result, we may be witnessing the internationalization of the climate change debate in Latin America. Whether Brazil´s role in this new climate change collective works out positively or negatively for itself and other Latin American countries remains to be seen.
Mexico will be hosting the COP 16 in December 2010. That gives international leaders, civil society and the world’s business community a year to get their act together to deliver a new climate change deal. In regards to Latin America and the climate change conundrum what is likely to happen in 2010? ICC offers 11 festive predictions for the year to come: 1. As Christiana Figueres points out in the previous post, it is uncertain whether Latin American countries can act together in the climate change negotiations. There is a risk that in the run up to December 2010 Latin American positions on global warming become more polarised. 2. It is possible Latin American countries counter these differences by working on common areas notably in energy, forestry, infrastructure and disaster reduction. The work of international organisations in the region such as CEPAL, BID and the World Bank will be crucial in supporting countries find this common ground. In turn, this strategy can pay dividends for the negotiations when countries take advantage of what they have in common and appreciate what they also risk losing by not working together. 3. Other Latin American organisations looking to advance their work programmes on climate change begin to assist this process. Mercosur, Andean Community of Nations, Organisation of American States, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation, Latin American Energy Organisation, Central American Integration System, and the North American Free Trade Agreement step out of obscurity and bring plans to the table. 2010 will be an important year to see what they can offer. 4. Analysts despair at the UN system on climate change and how it may fail to secure a new treaty. Which other global organisations can fill this void? The G20 would appear to be an option but has only three Latin American members: Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Next December will not be enough time to find a replacement organisation for the UN. It remains to be seen whether these platforms have the capability and legitimacy or are indeed used effectively by their members to enhance the climate change debate. The UN continues to be the primary channel for negotiations. 5. CEPAL’s national and regional based economics of climate change studies in Latin America gain traction pushing the issue through government ministries across the region. 6. A rise in droughts, floods and prolonged power cuts across the Latin American region, due to abnormal weather patterns and rusty infrastructure, leads to an increase in public unrest and criticism of government and energy companies. 7. Latin America’s civil society movement continue to galvanise its long held and legitimate grievances against the Washington Consensus with the injustice of climate change impacts in the region. Projects, campaigns and protests rise prior to the Mexican conference. 8. The Latin American media caters for greater public interest in climate change by increasing coverage on this issue across the media spectrum. 9. Carbon markets in the both the compliance and voluntary sectors take a back seat in early 2010 but are revitalised in the wake of surging oil prices and a renewed commitment towards a new climate treaty in December. The renewable energy sector in Latin America benefits from this new found enthusiasm. 10. The Spanish presidency of the European Union leads to greater European attention towards Latin America with climate change becoming a priority in the EU-LAC Strategic Partnership. 11. The EU and Latin America’s largest polluters, Brazil and Mexico, begin discussing options to integrate the European Emission Trading Scheme with nationally based cap and trade schemes.
Here’s a short video on the Brazilian National Plan on Climate Change:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKi_LrDWZRQ&hl=en_GB&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00]
Published in Amazon
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