Wednesday, 23 December 2009 14:19

Latin America’s climate change challenge and prospects for 2010 Featured

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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.
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Guy Edwards

Guy Edwards is a Research Fellow at the Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University, where he manages a research project on the politics of climate change in Latin America. Along with co-author, Professor Timmons Roberts, he is currently writing a book on Latin American leadership on climate change for MIT Press. He has also written various academic papers, policy briefs and op-eds for a number of different publications. As co-founder of Intercambio Climático and formerly co-editor of the website, Guy has worked closely with the Latin American Platform on Climate and the Latin American office of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. He has also worked for the Overseas Development Institute, the consultancy River Path Associates and as the resident manager of the Huaorani Ecolodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon.