The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean must change their development paradigm, taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda to confront climate change, which is one of the major challenges of the 21st century due to its global causes and consequences, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), affirmed today.
The United Nations organization’s most senior representative led the launch of the report The Economics of Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Graphic View, which was commented upon by Marcelo Mena, the Chilean Minister of the Environment, and Andrés Rebolledo, the Chilean Energy Minister.
In a video address, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared herself to be an optimistic woman “including with regard to the kind of response we will be able to give to such a pressing issue as climate change.”
“My optimism is based, among other things, on an ascertainment: it is striking how the tone has changed when this issue is discussed. What was before a topic for specialists, distant and contaminated by distrust, has become an undeniable issue of civic interest in a reasoned debate and one that is increasingly being integrated in public policies and private sector strategies,” the Chilean leader indicated.
During her presentation, Alicia Bárcena affirmed that the document “is a graphic version of how over all these years we have managed to arrive at the point where we are today, a point that is moving ever closer to the point of no return.”
She specified that in the report “we set forth the main theses and naturally, the main challenges that we feel the planet and our region will face.”
ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, a member of Chile’s Presidential Advisory Committee on climate change, recalled that we are confronted with a true crisis in multilateralism. She underscored that the problem of climate change “cannot be resolved individually by each country. We need simultaneous, cooperative collective action, and above all we need to change the development pattern, which is not sustainable.”
“It is essential that we modify our production and, above all, investment patterns. The development model must be changed along with its consumption patterns,” she added.
The senior United Nations official indicated that for Latin America and the Caribbean what is most urgent is adaptation, which reduces risks, benefits those most vulnerable and is a motor for development.
She also called for putting into effect economic instruments such as the collection of environmental taxes.
“Latin America and the Caribbean has space to improve its environmental fiscal policy. This can even contribute to compensating, temporarily, for the loss of other tax income,” she affirmed.
Marcelo Mena, Chile’s Minister of the Environment and Chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on climate change, stressed that greater mitigation means bigger growth in GDP.
“Today when we ignore the cost of pollution in our economy, we are also denying climate change and, therefore, recognizing it within our economy is fundamental,” he said.
The Minister underlined that for Latin America and the Caribbean it would be crucial for there to be a regional technical secretariat to be able to make more national contributions to the region.
“Personally, I think that ECLAC would be a good technical secretariat for these purposes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chilean Energy Minister Andrés Rebolledo highlighted that in Chile “we have worked in a coherent way to go along building a much more sustainable growth model” and emphasized the importance of technology that, for example in his country, has allowed for considerably reducing the cost of unconventional renewable energies, guaranteeing greater access.
The report The Economics of Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Graphic View examines the nine theses about climate change in the region, along with the phenomenon’s seven challenges.
The publication was prepared in the framework of the EUROCLIMA program, financed by the European Commission and coordinated by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary.
After the report was presented, Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was shown.