Brazil flag river climate change Global Environment Facility/Baljit Wadhwa/Flickr

Latin America’s Climate Vanguard

Latin American countries can take the lead on framing a new climate change agreement at the UN's upcoming climate conference in Lima. Indeed, by enacting laws that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while encouraging economic growth, the region can set an example for the rest of the world.

SANTIAGO – Latin America may have weathered the global economic slowdown, but for many, the potential impact of global warming, and the measures required to avoid its worst effects, may undermine the region’s fragile political, economic, and social balance – and roll back years of progress.

But economic prosperity and action to mitigate climate change need not be mutually exclusive. Indeed, the current election cycle in Latin America, coupled with the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in December in Lima, Peru, provide an opportunity for the region to show how countries can benefit from a low-carbon economy, reduce climate risks, and build long-term prosperity.

Latin American countries are not starting from scratch. Most governments are already crafting policies and drafting legislation on climate change. Mexico was the first emerging country to pass a comprehensive climate-change law, in 2012, targeting a 30% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. Brazil recently succeeded in reducing Amazonian deforestation, and net carbon-dioxide emissions have dropped significantly as a result. Uruguay plans to generate 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015, while Chile aims to generate 20% of its power with renewable energy by 2025.

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