Four Major South American Governments Could Take Greater Climate Action

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The four major South American countries — Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina — can all take greater climate action, according to Climate Action Tracker.

The Climate Action Tracker is an independent science-based assessment of the emission commitments and actions of countries, tracking individual national pledges, targets, INDCs, and currently implemented policies, and analyzing their efficacy and potential. A full ranking of all the current INDCs are ranked by the group, and in a new analysis published on Thursday, it focused on the four major countries of South America — Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina.

Specifically, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), while Brazil and Peru’s climate plans are rated better than those of Chile or Argentina, none of the four are rated as “sufficient” and can all do more.

“None of these countries will be immune to the effects of climate change,” explained Dr. Marcia Rocha, Head of the Climate Policy team at Climate Analytics. “An increase in warming of 2°C would have severe impacts on all four of them, and on the rest of the continent.”

“Yet instead of taking action commensurate with the size of the threat, these governments are largely sticking with their current policies, which are heading in the wrong direction.”

Detailed analyses of each country are available at their respective links, but here are a few highlights.

Image - has a tough road ahead of it, with the possibility of huge climate impacts on its ecosystem, specifically significant droughts currently affecting the Amazon. And though Brazil has managed to slam the brakes on previously-soaring rates of deforestation by 85% between 2005 and 2012, and has set impressive targets such as reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 37% below 2005 levels by 2025, the country will still see emissions increase if even small changes are not made to current policies.

“Brazil has a large share of hydro power, yet its energy market is projected to increase by more than 50% between 2012 and 2030,” said Dr Rocha. “While it is good that renewable energy share is set to grow, Brazil needs to be careful it doesn’t recarbonise its electricity sector.”

CAT believes that “Climate change is likely to hit Peru hard” with the expected 2°C of warming likely to see 90% of the country’s glaciers disappear, causing massive water shortages to cities like Lima during the dry season. Peru is also likely to be one of the hardest hit countries in terms of its fishing industries.

Peru is also home to the second largest piece of the Amazon, after Brazil, and the country’s impact on the great forest’s deforestation rate is not inconsequential. With only a 20% emissions reduction below business-as-usual by 2030 (which could increase to 30% with financial help), Peru must do more, especially where its forests are concerned.

“With its current deforestation rates, it is difficult to see how Peru is going to meet its climate target, especially its 2021 zero deforestation goal,” said said Juan Pablo Osornio, of Ecofys. “The country is also likely to face water shortages from glacier melt that will impact on cities and agriculture.”

Image Credit: Chile via Flickr CCChile is also facing glacial melt issues, which will similarly cause water shortages — though nowhere near as extreme as in Peru. Conversely, however, Chile’s low-lying cities of Valparaiso and Antofagasta are expected to see sea-level rise of up to more than half a meter by the end of the century in a world warmed by 4°C.

The country has set a target of emissions reductions of 30% of GHG emissions-intensity by GDP below 2007 levels by 2030, which the CAT has rated as “inadequate.”

“Chile is a good example of how, if the Paris agreement were to set targets only for 2025, inadequate efforts such as Chile’s could be improved for a 2030 dateline,” said Juan Pablo Osornio.

Finally, Argentina has not only submitted another “inadequate” INDC of reducing GHG emissions including land use by only 15% below business-as-usual by 2030, but it has also reserved the right to adjust this target, which CAT describes as “adding a high level of uncertainty to its contribution to the 2015 agreement.”

“Argentina has the potential to step up and at least meet its more ambitious conditional pledge,” said Dr Rocha. “For a country with such large emissions, and facing quite extreme impacts from global warming, it is disappointing to see such an inadequate effort.”

“These four South American climate targets are collectively disappointing, with this region extremely vulnerable to climate impacts and many already being observed, now would be the time to really ramp up policies and ambition,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.

“Now is not the time to  simply put forward no more than what is already being done or planned, the world needs real ambition for Paris, and it would be  a very important symbol if these countries were able to increase  their climate action by the time we get to Paris.”

The Climate Action Tracker is made up of four European research organizations — Climate AnalyticsEcofysNewClimate Institute, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

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Joshua S Hill

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