This is a guest blog by Andrea Becerra, NRDC Latin America Project consultant
Today leaders, NGOs, activists and environmentalists from around the world gathered in Bonn, Germany, for a closing ceremony to mark the end of another COP. Negotiators have been working tirelessly for the past two weeks to chart the implementation of the Paris Agreement and build the groundwork for 2018 and beyond. At the negotiating table, it has been a COP about settling details and technical terms that will set the right path forward for effective adaptation and mitigation.
The sidelines of the negotiations have been filled with the buzz and energy of ideas and actions being taken by NGOs, private sector, local government and academia who are committed to seeing the agreement’s success. The power of local action, more than ever, shined through the pledge of 25 cities, making a commitment to cut carbon to net zero by 2050. Together these cities represent 150 million people and include Boston, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Santiago. Meanwhile, the #WeAreStillIn movement, made up of 2,500 leaders in the United States and representing $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy, demonstrated that parts of the country are steadfastly taking on the challenges of fighting climate change.
If the COP 21 in Paris celebrated the feat of signing a worldwide pledge, COP23 has been about demonstrating the will and ambition to carry it out. We spoke with several Latin American organizations and leaders and asked them what message they have for Latinos in the U.S. Some highlighted the importance of local action, while others urged Latinos to seek inspiration in Latin America. From innovative low-carbon transportation in Colombia to a booming clean energy sector in Chile, various countries in Latin America are already leading on the type of climate solutions that will need to be ramped up in coming years.
Unanimously, the people we spoke to believe that we Latinos – both inside and outside the United States - have the power and agency to make a difference in our communities and ultimately our world. Here are some of their messages:
“There are many solutions Latinos in the U.S. can find in Latin America. Latin America is a region that is rich in culture and biodiversity and with all the tools to lead a resilient world. Let’s think how together we can strengthen the sustainable models that come from Latin America.” Paula Ellinger and Laura Señán Cagiao, Fundacion Avina
Paula Ellinger & Laura Señán Cagiao
“Latinos could make greater efforts to lead an environmental movement that challenges the culture of consumerism in the United States. There is an excessive amount of product and food waste in American society. It would be good for Latinos, who recognize the reality of less developed societies to promote other lifestyles in the United States.” Juan Luis Dammert, Sociologist and Researcher, Oxfam America
Juan Luis Dammert
“Now more than ever, the actions we take, not with state actors, but at the subnational level are very important. We are creating spaces for the participation of non-state actors and we want to ensure that they can participate in the negotiations because we believe they are key to taking action on climate. And even more so in the current political context.” Andrea Meza Murillo, Director of Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) of Costa Rica
“The United States faces a great challenge, being one of only countries to withdraw from the Paris Agreement…in this context it’s important for individuals to be critical of what is happening around them, to read, stay up to date on the impacts that are happening in Latin America and the world. To promote local governments to act and continue promoting local governments to push for sustainable transportation and the expansion of renewable energy.” Belen Desmaison, Architect & Urban Designer, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
“Each and every one of us in our little nations is responsible. The tiny ecosystems we live in have an impact on climate change at the micro-scale...recognizing that micro-scale is critical for taking concrete action at the global level.” Walter Ubal Giordano, Senior Program Specialist, IDRC-CRDI
Andrea Becerra is studying International Environment and Resource Policy at The Fletcher School, where she is focusing on water and energy issues, particularly as they relate to Latin America. She is a 2017-2018 TIE-SEI Fellow, researching how to use dynamic water modelling tools to connect policymakers, the private sector and NGOs in planning for future water scarcity. She is also a consultant for the Latin America Program at NRDC.