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Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) faces one of the greatest threats to its sustainable development: the effects of climate change. The impacts of global warming, such as rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather events (hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc.), are becoming increasingly evident in our region. In order to address them, and to achieve the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), LAC countries need the commitment and support of their cities.
Local governments are a key actor in the fight against climate change. However, despite the growing number of local climate initiatives, current efforts are often not well coordinated with national governments or with surrounding cities and regions. This prevents cities and regions from realizing their full potential to make a significant difference in transitioning to a zero carbon economy and strengthening their resilience.
The IDB, in its commitment to improving the lives of Latin Americans and Caribbeans, has just published a monograph that aims to help cities make the best decisions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Read on to learn more about this publication and the important role that LAC cities play in climate change action.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a vulnerable region
Cities in the region are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The rapid and disorderly urbanization of many municipalities in recent years, as well as the expansion of informal settlements in areas prone to natural disasters, make them particularly vulnerable to climate impacts. Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and droughts, can have devastating effects on the infrastructure, economy and health of urban populations. Of particular relevance is the climate emergency in Caribbean countries, where rising sea levels, droughts or hurricanes threaten the economy and survival of entire countries. It is therefore crucial that cities adopt measures to increase their resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Extracted from: Climate Action and the Paris Agreement: the Role of Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean | Source: (left) Own elaboration based on data from Germanwatch: Climata Risk Index 2021 | (right) Own elaboration based on data from ND-GAIN. Vulnerability indixes for 2020.
Why should cities work to address climate change?
LAC cities are responsible for most of the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, due to the high concentration of population (80% of the total), industrial activity and high energy consumption. These gases, in turn, are one of the main causes of global warming. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, stipulated as a goal to keep the global temperature increase well below 2°C or at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, the reality is that, at the current rate, we will not meet that target. That is why coordinated action at all levels of government (from local to international) is needed to achieve it.
While this may be seen as a challenge, it is in fact an opportunity. Cities represent a key pillar for mitigation and implementation of climate actions in our region. Many of them have taken the initiative to implement policies and projects to reduce their GHG emissions and move towards a more sustainable development. Read on to learn more.
Extracted from: Climate Action and the Paris Agreement: the Role of Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean | Notes: Unassigned Emissions refers to the international transport emissions (bunker fuels) and excluded territories. Source: Emissions corresponding to 2019. Climate Watch (2022). Emissions include Forestry and Land Use.
Climate action and the Paris Agreement: the role of Latin American and Caribbean cities.
If they receive adequate support, local governments in LAC have the opportunity to design measures and actions for climate change mitigation and adaptation based on the particular characteristics of their territories and population. They can also join efforts among municipalities and social actors to achieve the climate goals set at the national and international levels.
In order to support cities in the region in their actions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, the IDB has just published the monograph: “Climate action and the Paris Agreement: the role of Latin American and Caribbean cities“. This publication explains the importance of translating and adapting global and national climate goals to local contexts and needs in a collaborative manner. It provides recommendations for moving towards localizing climate initiatives in cities and improving capacities for multilevel climate governance in a local context.
The monograph includes a section assessing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the countries in the region and the cities’ climate action plans. It offers a pragmatic approach to translate the global goals of the Paris Agreement into concrete and implementable actions at all scales, including the local level. Finally, the reader will also find more than 20 climate solutions led by LAC cities, which sets precedents and offers ideas and experiences for more cities to contribute to the necessary climate action.
We invite you to download this publication and learn about the potential of cities to lead transformative climate action in the face of the main challenges of climate change, the region’s greenhouse gas emissions and the climate commitments assumed at the national and local levels.