The following book list includes texts focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean and climate change and the environment. The books address some of the most critical socio-environmental issues of the day with important implications for regional and national debates on climate. In the build up to the Rio+20 Conference next year, Latin American civil society organizations and regional and international networks are attempting to make this conference relevant and establish a new and revitalized agenda on sustainable development. These books can make a valuable contribution to that endeavour.
This article by Emily Kirkland, Brown University, focuses on efforts to adapt to climate change in Peru. In Huaraz, she sat down with government officials and local farmers to talk about what glacial retreat will mean for the region.
Climate change presents unique challenges in mountainous regions, especially the Andean regions of Chile and Peru. Retreating glaciers threaten mountain peoples’ water supplies and biodiversity loss is a very real threat as temperatures rise.
Research in these areas is complicated by the difficult topography and significant historical gaps in scientific knowledge.
For that reason, new approaches to development planning are now underway, incorporating diverse stakeholders from government agencies, NGOs, private companies, and local communities.
We caught up with Carmenza Robledo of Intercooperation to talk about the project ‘Adaptation to Climate Change’ (PACC) Peru, an exciting new initiative that seeks to combine scientific expertise with local knowledge for new development.
The World Bank considers mountain ecosystems in the Andes to be one of four climate hotspots in Latin America alongside the coral biome in the Caribbean, wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and the Amazon basin. These hotspots are comprised of ecosystems that are severely affected by the impacts of climate change. They are considered crucial areas for adaptation and remind us why reducing global emissions is so important. They also carry significant economic costs ensuring that policy-makers will do everybody an incredible injustice if they fail to act now.
The following video in Spanish with English subtitles, highlight show a disappearing glacier in the Peruvian Andes affects rural communities:
One of Bolivia’s best known glaciers, Chacaltaya, has melted away completely, reports John Enders:
Chacaltaya (the name in Aymara means ”cold road”) began melting in the mid-1980s. Dr. Edson Ramirez, the assistant director of the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in nearby La Paz, documented its disappearance in March.
Ramirez believes the disappearance of Chacaltaya is an indication of the potent effects at higher elevations of the interaction of greenhouse gas accumulation and an increase in average global temperatures.
And he thinks other glaciers in the Andean region also may be melting at a rate faster than previously known. Illimani, the colossal 21,200-foot mountain that looms over the city of La Paz, is the home to several glaciers. They likely will melt completely within 30 years, he said.
The disappearance of glaciers is not only of interest to scientists but also for those dependent on them for their livelihoods, water security and power generation from hydroelectricity.
Chacaltaya became well-known long before it started melting. For decades it was declared, and aggressively marketed, as “the highest ski run in the world.”
”Very few come to ski now,” laments Alfredo Martinez, 73, who is one of the founders of the Club Andino de Bolivia, based in La Paz.
On the western, mostly arid side of the Andes, millions of people depend on rain, snow run-off and melting glaciers for their water.
Not only are the glaciers melting, but less rain seems to be falling in the Andes. The big rain-carrying monsoons drifting west from the Amazon basin have declined in size and intensity, another indication of major climactic changes, Ramirez said.
This year, for the first time, the amount of water flowing out of reservoirs serving nearly 2.5 million people in La Paz and its adjacent city, El Alto, will exceed the amount of water flowing into them. This eventually will become a major political issue for leaders in La Paz and El Alto, he said.
To Juan Velazquez, who grew up just over the mountain from Chacaltaya in the now-abandoned mining town Mulluni, and later moved with his family to La Paz, the defunct glacier means less income. As a taxi driver, he can earn the equivalent of 50 U.S. dollars driving tourists from La Paz to the glacier and back. That’s the equivalent of a month’s wages for some in this impoverished land.
The speed of glacial melt reconfirms the importance of adaptation for countries like Bolivia who are historically responsible for a tiny percentage of global carbon emissions, but are the first in line to suffer the consequences of climate change.
This article was first posted on the Guardian’s Comment is free
Glaciers in Peru are melting so quickly that by 2015 almost all of them may have disappeared. This is not just a problem for Peru but for the whole Andean Community of Nations, including Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. These countries generate around 73% of their electricity from hydro energy. Ironically, this renewable source of energy risks disappearing because of melting glaciers caused by climate change.
The report, Climate change knows no borders, provides a chilling reminder of the catastrophic impacts of climate change on the Andean region. The evidence predicting the rapid loss of glaciers and a fiercer, more frequent El Niño effect, where ocean temperatures rise along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru, causing droughts and floods, reveals an uncertain and potentially destructive future for the region. The El Niño of 1997/8 had a devastating impact, leaving thousands dead or homeless, crops ruined, roads and bridges left smashed. The bill ran into billions of dollars.
If this wasn’t enough, climate change could lead to further losses of up to $30 billion a year by 2025 in the Andean region while the effect of melting glaciers could place 40 million people at risk of losing their water supply.
It seems ironic that the highest number of the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism projects in the Andean Community relate to the resource facing the greatest threat – water. The climatic stresses causing the loss of glaciers, and in turn jeopardising what many regard as a key constituent of rural development through electrification, may result in a vicious cycle. The loss of this vital resource, combined with high prices and scant political enthusiasm for other renewable options – geothermal, wind and solar – may result in countries resorting to an increase in the use of fossil fuels.
Considering the region’s minor contribution to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions this would be extremely counter-productive. It might also run the risk of undermining what has so far been a progressive stance on climate change at the international policy level. In 1993, Ecuador became the first developing country to ratify the climate convention. Although scientific evidence and past experience of extreme weather conditions have provided grounds for a strong rhetorical stand on climate change at the international level, Andean governments have been reluctant to integrate climate change strategies into the fabric of development policy.
Peru did not establish a ministry for the environment until May 2008, exposing a pattern played out regionally of weak state institutions, unequal access to natural resources, a lack of political will, non-existent funding, insufficient information and deficient infrastructure. The challenge of integrating development and climate change agendas is, therefore, critical.
The Andean Community is skating on thin ice as the longevity of one of its most important sources of renewable energy is thrown into doubt. The question remains whether or not the world will act, and if the ice will remain thick enough to support Andean sustainable development for the future.
The Durban Platform: Implications and Scenarios in Latin America (2012)
This report analyzes submissions made by Latin American countries to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for …
Sustainable Development 20 years on from the Earth Summit: Progress, gaps and strategic, guidelines for Latin America and the Caribbean (2012)
This report by ECLAC published in March 2012 prior to the Rio+20 Conference offers an analysis of progress made and …
Capturing the Riches of Bolivia: Utilizing Historical and Contemporary Experience in Bolivian Mining to Inform Future Resource Policy (2012)
Centuries of foreign extraction of Bolivian natural resource wealth have occurred at the expense of environmental protection and overall development …
Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation in the Peruvian Andes (2012)
Indigenous peoples have extensive knowledge of their local environment and this knowledge can be a valuable tool for climate change …
Shaping the Durban Platform: Latin America and the Caribbean in a future High Ambition Deal (2012)
After the longest session on record, governments at the COP17 in Durban in December 2011 agreed to negotiate by 2015 …
Three Hungry Giants: China, the U.S. and the E.U.’s battle over Latin America’s natural resources, and its implications for climate change and resource scarcity (2012)
This presentation was made on April 6, 2012, by Brown University Research Fellow Guy Edwards and Professor Timmons Roberts at …
Poles Apart – The international reporting of climate change scepticism (2011)
Poles Apart is a wide-ranging comparative study on the prevalence of climate scepticism in the media around the world. It …
Dangerous Climate Change in Brazil: A Brazil-UK Analysis of Climate Change and Deforestation Impacts in the Amazon (2011)
This collaborative project between the Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST) of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), …
Civil-Military Collaboration to Address Adaptation to Climate Change in South America (2011)
This paper, published by the Center for Strategic Leadership (CSL) at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), was written by …
‘Will cattle ranching continue to drive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?’ (Paulo Barreto, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Paulo Barreto, Senior Researcher at IMAZON, at the April 8th Brown University Conference on …
‘Slow Boil: Colombia’s response to the chronic emergency of climate vulnerability’ (Antonio Hill, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Antonio Hill, Regional Advocacy and Campaigns Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean for …
‘The Squeezed Middle: Why Latin America Matters in Climate Politics’ (Monica Araya, 2011)
This is a presentation made by Dr. Monica Araya, E3G Senior Associate and adviser to the Ministry of Environment of …
Scoping Study of Climate Change Activities across Latin America and the Caribbean to inform the CDKN Regional Strategy (2010)
This study prepared by Guy Edwards attempts to identify the priority needs of Latin American and Caribbean policy-makers with respect …
Regional implications of the Advisory Group on Climate Finance recommendations: Latin America and Caribbean region (2010)
This report was written by Vivid Economics and funded by the CDKN. It was requested by AGF members to help …
Economics of Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean Summary 2010
This document, published by the ECLAC and carried out in collaboration with regional governments, the EU, IDB and various other …
IDB Development Effectiveness Overview 2010
This annual report summarizes the actions taken by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to measure and improve the social, economic, …
Climate Change: A Research Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean (Inter-American Development Bank, 2010)
This research agenda outlines the issues requiring further research in order to create an informed assessment of what strategies and …
Latin America finds a voice on climate change: With what impact? (2010)
This article featured in the North American Congress on Latin America written by Jim Shultz and published in 2010 describes …
Low Carbon, High Growth: Latin American Responses to Climate Change (2009)
The World Bank’s flagship report on Latin America and the Caribbean explores how the region is exposed to climate change …
Climate Change in Latin America (2009)
The European Commission funded a study which would ascertain the problems related to climate change within Latin America. The study …
Up in smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean: The threat from climate change to the environment and human development (2006)
This publication is an important contribution to establish greater awareness about climate change. It is a call to action not …
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Blogs & Websites
- Observatório do Clima
- Blog de Cambio Climático – Perú
- Hablemos de Cambio Climático – blog de BID
- Cambia.pe – Testimonios sobre Cambio Climático
- Cambio Climático Rural
- Climate Change Agriculture and Food Society
- Climate Progress
- Climate Vulnerability Monitor
- The Democracy Center
- Renewable Energy Latin America
- Notes on ICTs, Climate Change and Development
- World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
- Natural Resources Defense Council – Amanda Maxwell Blog
- Foro sobre Cambio Climático y Comercio
- BBCMundo.com | América Latina
- Bloggings by boz
- Blog de Cambio climático
- Cambio Climático Chile – Terram
- Círculo Verde
- Clima de Preparación – historias de la adaptación, la experiencia, y las exploraciones
- Climate Science Watch
- Conexão Verde
- Ecosystem Marketplace
- Energías Renovables
- Energía Sur – Centro Latino Americano de Ecología Social
- Fórum Brasileiro de Mudanças Climáticas
- Green Momentum – Cleantech for Latin America
- Gráficos Vitales del Cambio Climático para América Latina y el Caribe
- Mudanças Climáticas
- Observatorio Ambiental
- O Eco
- Programa Local de Adaptación al Cambio Climático
- Real Climate Economics
- Responding to Climate Change (RTCC)
- Sistema de Información Ambiental de Colombia (SIAC)
- AlertNet – Climate Change
- Ushahidi – tools for democratizing information and increasing transparency
- Open Letter to René Castro, Minister of Environment of Costa Rica
- A New “Why” for Climate Action
- Platform publishes new policy brief on how to strengthen public policies on agriculture, livestock and forests in Latin America
- Peru and Venezuela compete to host COP20 in 2014
- The Politics of Climate Change in Latin America: Leaders and Laggards
- Integrating Climate Migration into Latin American regional forums
- IDB: LAC must urgently adapt to the dangerous consequences of a changing climate
- A New Latin American Climate Negotiating Group: The Greenest Shoots in the Doha Desert
- Mexican and Brazilian cooperation on climate crucial for driving change
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Emily Kirkland: I second that- thanks for the...
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Guy Edwards: Graham – thanks for your...
- Trail-blazing schemes show potential of REDD+ in the Brazilian Amazon - Graham Woodgate: Dear GuyTwo points for you...
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - Guy Edwards: Rachel: Thanks for your comments....
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - rachelincolombia: Hi Guy,Thanks for this much...
- Ecuador’s Yasuní Initiative shakes up the climate-development agenda - Amazonia: It is great to develop...
- Latin America, climate change and the countdown to Copenhagen: Interview 1* - kiramatali shah: . According to the...
- Chávez criticizes lack of transparency in Copenhagen - tiffany: Thanks for the post – you might find this...
- Latin America, climate change and the countdown to Copenhagen: Interview 3* - tax jobs: HiIn this site very super ,...
- Adios Chacaltaya - Mbenzi: I was there 1980, before it officially started to melt. One of the strangest places I have...
Challenges for a Climate Compatible Development: How to strengthen agricultural, livestock and forestry public policies (2013)
This policy brief emerges from a process of analysis of the status and quality of the public policies on climate …
Report on the Status and Quality of Public Policies on Climate Change and Development in Latin America (2012)
This report analyses the present status of public policies on climate change and development in Latin America focusing on the …
Political and Institutional Challenges facing Local Climate Change Policies: The experiences of Buenos Aires, Mexico City and São Paulo (2012)
During the last few years, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Mexico …
Latin American Platform on Climate Strategy 2010
This document outlines the Strategic Lines of Action of the Latin American Platform on Climate.…
Latin America: Climate Challenges for the Region (2009)
A LAPC presentation made at the COP15 in Copenhagen, 14th December 2009…