Climate Policies: Which are the Most and Least Compromised Countries in Latin America?

Countries Must Respond to Climate Change with Measures that allow the Development of Adaptation Capacities and Transformation Projects Towards Sustainability. However, not all go at the Necessary Pace.

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LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Políticas climáticas: ¿cuáles son los países más y menos compremetidos de América Latina?

Climate policies are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to comply with the Paris Agreement to prevent the world's average temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees (maximum 2 degrees) increase compared to pre-industrial levels.

Recent speeches by several Latin American presidents at the United Nations General Assembly focused on protecting the environment. Gustavo Petro, from Colombia, emphasized the conservation of the Amazon; Gabriel Boric, from Chile, made a call to think about climate justice and Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil, mentioned that he has fought to preserve the environment. However, speeches are one thing and actual climate policies are another. For example, during the government of Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in the Amazon has reached historical figures and, with reference to his speech at the UN, his actions are contradictory.

We recommend you read: Infographic: Amazon Deforestation Reaches 1.6 Million Trees per Day in 2022

Tracking climate action: quite a challenge

Keeping track of the climate and environmental policies of States is not always an easy task. There are many economic interests behind the exploitation of natural resources, and this makes transparency difficult. Likewise, America is the most dangerous region for environmental defenders, according to Global Witness, an organization that documents the deaths of defenders since 2012. Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico are the most dangerous countries in this regard.

For this reason, the ratification by the countries of the continent of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (better known as the Escazú Agreement) is a fundamental step so that there is more transparency in the figures. In addition, it is key to justice and the implementation of environmental policies.

However, there are also tools that allow governments to be monitored and measure their commitment to the fight against climate change. Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is one of these. It is a climate action tracker created by Climate Analytics and the NewClimate Institute. The Climate Action Tracker is an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action and measures it against the Paris Agreement goal.

The CAT monitors 39 countries and the European Union, which are estimated to generate about 85% of global emissions and about 70% of the population. In this exhibition, he analyzes the effect of policies on emissions, the impact of the promises and targets set, and how his policies are aligned on a global scale. In Latin America, it monitors Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.

The tool uses a traffic light-style classification method, with the categories: "1.5 °C compatible with the Paris Agreement", “Almost sufficient”, “Insufficient”, “Highly insufficient” and “Critical insufficient” in relation to its compatibility with the established goals of increasing temperatures.

Costa Rica, historically the most committed

Of the countries studied, Costa Rica is the only one that reaches a positive assessment, with a score of "Almost sufficient". In other words, "although Costa Rica's climate policies are consistent with the 1.5 °C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement, its climate commitments are not, but they could be with moderate improvements," says the CAT. In fact, the country has been recognized by various international organizations for its environmental protection policies.

"More than 98% of its energy is renewable, forest cover reaches more than 53% of the territory after hard work to reverse decades of deforestation, and about a quarter of land areas have become protected areas or reserves," assures the United Nations Environment Program with reference to the Central American country.

In fact, its 1949 Constitution already established that "everyone has the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment." Also, this year the country launched its first National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change, which, according to information from its presidency, lays out the roadmap to develop resilience over the next 5 years. However, the current government, elected in 2022, has already been questioned by environmentalists for not showing the same commitment.

Brazil, Chile, and Peru: insufficient

These three countries obtain a classification of insufficient according to the CAT. The report explains that, although Brazil is in this classification, its situation does not have a good projection. "Deforestation in Brazil increased in 2020 and 2021, largely due to illegal mining and livestock. In addition, weak law enforcement and illegal activities facilitated access to protected lands. No policy guarantee a change in the emissions, and they are expected to continue to rise, again leaving Brazil far from reaching its climate goals.

As for Chile, it is the best standing out of the 3. "Chile has made very substantial progress on climate action (…) Chile's updated emissions projections under current policies and actions stabilize, rather than to increase, and the government's planned policies, if implemented, would peak emissions before 2025, exceed the 2030 NDC targets." The Andean country could be a leader in climate policies in the region. For its part, Peru is classified as a currently unstable country with respect to environmental policies, due to its constant political changes and its slow progress in climate policies.

Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia: highly insufficient

For the CAT, Argentina needs substantial improvements in many areas to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In short, it is significantly behind in climate policies. Regarding Colombia, its greatest challenges are in energy and transportation, despite the fact that it has increased its commitments. As for the North American country, the analysis indicates that: "Mexico's climate policies under President López Obrador continue to regress, since the use of fossil fuels is prioritized and climate-related policies and institutions are dismantled."

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