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The summit was heated in Paris to cool the planet

The summit was heated in Paris to cool the planet

December 12, 2017 will go down in history as the date on which the French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, quoted the leaders from all over the world to face the most urgent emergency that humanity faces, climate change.

The United States has expressed interest in withdrawing from the Paris agreement in 2015, Donald Trump, famously made the phrase "make America great again", in contrast, the French president, Emanuel Macron, who is a great protagonist Faced with global commitments to curb climate change, it has a much broader slogan: "Let's make the world great again".

What is the priority for the citizens of the world, to return America great or to return the great world, but above all, habitable? That seems to be the dilemma faced by all the states on the planet.

"This summit was framed in the Paris agreements, but it has differences in terms of the actors it has invited, not only was the United Nations and the French government leading the entire process, but also the entire financial sector, panels and presentations were related to the whole issue of financing", says Rodrigo Suárez, former director of climate change at the Ministry of Environment in Colombia and international consultant on these issues, in an interview with LatinAmerican Post.

But not only the banks took a leading role in the race to stop an increase in the atmosphere's temperature and were protagonists, this summit was also attended by members of the C40, mayors of the most populated cities on the planet working to reduce emissions of carbon and adapt to climate change.

Cities such as Vancouver in Canada, Quito Ecuador and Changwon in China are considered innovative cities and went to Paris to show the different initiatives they have adopted to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt to the new conditions of the planet due to climate change.

Actors such as mayors, NGO’s and representatives of the biggest companies in the private sector worldwide, are essential to achieve the global objectives, especially when one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States, has manifested the withdrawal of the agreement to not fulfill the commitments acquired before the planet.

For Isabel Cavelier, former negotiator for Colombia in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adviser to AILAC and director of Visión de Transforma, "the world has already turned the page of Donald Trump, in the past COP23 it was demonstrated with great vehemence, how a huge number of mayors and governors and a monumental proportion of the industrialists and representatives of the largest companies in the United States, are committed to the Paris agreement and to obtain the contribution of that country, then the White House became an isolated and marginal player. "

However, she adds that "this doesn't mean that there is not a greater degree of difficulty for having a contradictor in the presidency of the United States, but what is very clear is that the world has an absolute determination to go ahead and to fulfill with the objective in spite of what the representative of the republicans in the White House does or does not do".

That is why the French government awarded a subsidy of about 30 million euros to American scientists for research on alternatives that can reduce the global warming of the atmosphere.

Macrón has embodied the world leadership of the fight against climate change, "our predecessors could say 'we did not know', but we have not, for twenty years we know and every day we know more," said the representative of Eliseo to the world's press in reference to climate change.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said that "After 2019, the WBG will stop financing oil exploration and production operations", as a clear message to discourage the use of fossil fuels and added that "goal to allocate for 2020 28% of its funding for climate-related initiatives, and is also in a position to achieve the objectives of its Action Plan on Climate Change, prepared after the Paris Agreement".

For Mr. Suárez, "they are marking very interesting milestones, if we understand that some countries are migrating towards renewable energies making the transit, for example, to mobility with electric vehicles, then we understand that they are very clear messages, they are demands for global goods and services and a market is generated at the international level ".

He adds that "although it is true that the demand for coal in the United States grows, there will also be cities and states that will work to reduce emissions and generate energy from unconventional sources."

For its part, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo launched a laconic phrase "our voices should cover those who destroy the world today and tomorrow," that seems to be the slogan of all those gathered at the summit of the French capital .

"These types of announcements, like those made by President Macrón, the mayor of Paris, the president of the World Bank and many others, are fundamental because they increase the 'international momentum' in a period in which we have two critical years, global emissions must descend by the year 2020, that is the window of opportunity we have to achieve the goal set in the Paris agreement to prevent the rise of global average temperature by two degrees Celsius", said Cavelier.

Despite the huge global efforts to stop the increase in the atmosphere’s temperature, the French president warns that "we are losing the battle, we must not make a mistake" and adds that "the challenge of our generation is to act and to do it faster", in that the wills of most of the states of the world are concentrated, despite the fact that even in the 21st century and with all the scientific evidence they insist on denying the relationship between the Greenhouse Gases emission, the warming of the atmosphere and the consequences of Climate Change.

The expert on Climate Change Rodrigo Suárez summarizes the scientific certainty with a conclusive example. "Only 3% of the world's scientists say that Climate Change is not related to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, I ask you: if 97% of scientists says that a bridge through which you are going to cross, it will fall, would you cross it?, I will not. "

Latin American deforestation

The alarming rate of Latin American deforestation

According to the United Nations, 65% of the global forest area losses corresponds to Latin America and the Caribbean


The destruction of the forest area is one of the biggest Latin American concerns. Because of deforestation, environmental problems such as aridity, erosion and the loss of biodiversity caused by habitat damage, have become the headaches of Latin American leaders.

United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) explains that Latin American and the Caribbean lost 4.7 million hectares, which corresponded to 65% of the global losses during the 2000-20005. One of the effects that most worries the experts is the loss of biodiversity, due to the natural alterations caused by humanity that increase the problems derived from climate change.

Although the Latin America problematic tends to improve, it is still concerning. According to the FAO report "State of the World's Forests 2011 (SOFO), South America and the Caribbean reduced their rates of deforestation. In the Caribbean, it fell from 59 thousand hectares per year to 41 thousand. In relation to Central America, the deforestation indicators showed an increase in the felling of trees, going from 54 thousand hectares per year (1990-2000) to 74 thousand hectares per year (2000-2010).

For South America, the situation has been changing. For SOFO in 2011, the region stood out for the decrease in deforestation. However, the reduction was not considerable and two years later FAO calculated that South America is the region that has lost the most forest areas in the world. This is a result of the great damage that the Amazon rainforest has suffered.

Based on the data given above, the governments of the region decided to work under an environmental reason, which has helped to reduce the rate of deforestation and to mitigate the consequences. As a consequence of the joint efforts made by the UN, regional integration mechanisms, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society, governments have been working to implement sustainable development on the continent based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS).

As a result of the interest shown by the Latin American and the Caribbean States, there are international cooperation projects and policies that protect and work for the environment. One of the most famous measures is the national forest programs. In recent years, the number of forests designated for the conservation of biodiversity has increased, surpassing the figure of 3 million hectares.

Thus, the Latin American Network of Technical Cooperation in National Parks, Other Areas, Flora and Fauna (REDPARQUES) was established. The function of this mechanism is to promote and strengthen, through cooperation, the technical knowledge on the management of protected places.

Haiti and the Amazon the most critical places in Latin America and the Caribbean

Although the rate of deforestation is decreasing, there are areas in Latin America that increased their rate of deforestation after the 2011 SOFO report. The Amazon is one of those places where deforestation increases by periods. According to the Mighty Earth program, around 130 thousand hectares of forest were lost in the Brazilian Amazon during the 2011-2015 period.

In Peru, the scenario is not different. Between 2001 and 2015 the jungle lost an average of almost 2 million hectares in a period of 15 years. The years where more hectares were lost were 2009 and 2014. In accordance to the Monitoring Project of the Andean Amazon (MAAP), the causes of deforestation were logging, agriculture, livestock, illegal mining, infrastructure works and illicit crops.

On the other hand, Haiti has the threat of losing its native forests in a period of 10 years, due to the high rate of deforestation.  United Nations Development Program (UNDP) argues that social conditions promote the felling of trees, because 70% of the population uses charcoal for cooking. It is estimated that Haiti loses annually between 15 and 20 million trees.

The truth is that Latin America and the Caribbean are privileged areas in the world in environmental matters. The natural wealth of the region deserves political protection and the establishment of measures that protect the environment and reduce the rate of deforestation in the region.  The deforestation has decreased but it is still alarming.

LatinAmerican Post | Bryan Andres Murcia

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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