Today, Brookings Institution publishes a new paper by Guy Edwards, J. Timmons Roberts, Monica Araya, and Cristián Retamal on how the current round of the UN climate talks can catalyze climate action in Latin America. Members of Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab conducted the research for the case studies on Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela: Alison Kirsch, Sophie Purdom, Zihou Jiang, Cassidy Bennett, Camila Bustos, Alexis Duran, Maris Jones, Victoria Hoffmeister, Ximena Carranza-Risco, Marguerite SuozzoGolé, Allison Reilly, and Jeff Baum.
In December over 190 countries will converge on Paris to finalize a new global agreement on climate change that is scheduled to come into force in 2020. A central part of it will be countries’ national pledges, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs), to be submitted this year which will serve as countries’ national climate change action plans. For Latin American countries, the INDCs present an unprecedented opportunity. They can be used as a strategic tool to set countries or at least some sectors on a cleaner path toward low-carbon sustainable development, while building resilience to climate impacts. The manner in which governments define their plans will determine the level of political buy-in from civil society and business. The implementation of ambitious contributions is more likely if constituencies consider them beneficial, credible, and legitimate.
Latin American countries are playing an active role at the U.N. climate change talks and some are taking steps to reduce their emissions as part of their pre-2020 voluntary pledges. However, despite some progress there are worrying examples suggesting that some countries’ climate policies are not being implemented effectively, or are being undermined by other policies. Whether their climate policies are successful or not will have significant consequences on the likely trajectory of the INDCs and their outcomes. The imperative for climate action is not only based on Latin America’s modest contribution to global carbon emissions. Rather, a focus on adaptation, increasing the deployment of renewable energy and construction of sustainable transport, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, and protecting biodiversity is essential to build prosperity for all Latin Americans to achieve a more sustainable and resilient development.
1. Latin American countries should develop robust and transparent intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs, or national pledges of climate action) based on public consultation. These plans can set in motion a shift to resilient and low-carbon development pathways.
2. Latin American governments and civil society groups should consider organizing a regional forum focusing on the INDCs and adaptation, climate risks, clean energy, and transport. This can be started under Ecuador’s current presidency of CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and can be turned into an annual meeting to assess progress.
3. Latin American governments should call a meeting with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, CAF–Development Bank of Latin America, and principal donor countries to showcase their INDCs and their existing emissions reductions and adaptation plans, with the aim of encouraging further investment, cooperation, and to mobilize special credit lines.
4. Governments need to engage with citizens by using accessible language and user-friendly outreach in order to increase public understanding and ownership of the INDCs and the Paris agreement. They must focus on the real benefits for citizens and businesses of national climate actions in order to win the argument that climate protection is affordable and in line with building prosperity and creating jobs.
5. Governments should provide clarity as to how civil society inputs on the INDCs will be considered which can lend transparency, legitimacy, and stakeholder engagement to the process.
6. Presidential support for public consultations on the INDCs is essential and can advance ambitious climate contributions and send clear political signals across government and society that the consultation process is a priority.
Download the full paper here.