Caribbean coastline

Unlocking Climate Finance

Persuading the private sector that climate finance can be good business will be the key to unlocking the capital required to decarbonize our economies and make them more resilient to harsher weather conditions. Several projects in Latin America and the Caribbean point the way.

WASHINGTON, DC – Record-strength hurricanes, submerged coastal cities, scorched dust bowls – these are the sort of apocalyptic images that are often used to illustrate the devastating consequences of climate change. But for millions of farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean, a slow-motion catastrophe is already underway.

A fungus known as rust, or roya in Spanish, is attacking coffee plantations from Mexico to Peru. Scientists blame the rapid spread of the disease – which suffocates trees by coating their leaves – on climate change. Rust thrives when it rains often and temperatures are unusually warm – conditions that are occurring more frequently in these coffee-growing regions.

Most of the discussion at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris has focused on what will happen after 2020, when any agreement that is reached would come into effect. But coffee rust is destroying livelihoods even as the negotiators speak. The crisis illustrates the burden developing countries face as they try to meet their people’s hopes for higher living standards and their international commitments to decarbonize their economies. Addressing it will require the same broad cooperation and decisive action that other climate-related challenges will demand over the coming decades.

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