The Latin American & Caribbean Climate Week, which ended on Thursday, August 23, 2018, showcased groundbreaking action underway in the region to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
The event reached its apex with the high-level segment on Wednesday, which was opened by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa; Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Edson Duarte; and the country’s host, Uruguay’s Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Eneida de León.
Delegates attending the Climate Week in the old town of Montevideo, raised concerns that the funding levels announced in 2015 are not being achieved in line with the successful implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The effects of this funding gap, the stated, would be felt acutely in a region that has so much to lose from the impacts of climate change. Brazil alone holds 20% of the known biodiversity species on the planet and has more than 50% of its area covered with native forests.
Uruguay’s Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Eneida de León used her keynote speech to underline this point further: “Our region is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, where the vast majority of loss and damage that we suffer is directly related to extreme weather events. Future projections are not encouraging. Paradoxically, developing countries are the ones that contribute least to climate change, and yet we suffer the greatest impacts.”
Yet despite this sobering reality check, there was still cause for optimism at the Climate Week. Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Edson Duarte, reported that his country has already achieved substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically – statistics obtained by REDD+ – demonstrate that actions in the Brazilian Amazon now surpass six billion tons of CO2, equivalent to the emissions of a year and a half of the entire European Union.
Afterwards, Duarte hailed this year’s Talanoa Dialogue as the world’s main chance to generate the ambition necessary to secure a low-carbon future, saying, “The Brazilian government has initiated the Talanoa Brazil Dialogue, which, by strengthening trust among national actors and identifying where we are and where we want to go, aims to organize the country’s messages for the Talanoa Global Dialogue, which will take place at the Climate Conference in Poland later this year. We urge our brothers from Latin America and the Caribbean to make the same move, so that we can arrive in Poland with clear objectives.”
Effectively serving as a bold call to action ahead of the Ministerial Talanoa taking place at COP24 this December, such remarks show how the regional Climate Weeks have a vital role to play in bringing local actors together to shore-up climate action. As such, the Climate Weeks must become a mainstay of the climate action calendar – a point which was not lost on UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa: “By tackling climate change we can tackle more than just the weather. We can address more than just numbers and statistics. We can create a better world. That’s why this Climate Week is so important. It’s a chance for us to hear about the challenges actors face and the specific work being done here to address them; solutions that might be applicable elsewhere.”
The Climate Week culminated in a regional edition of the Talanoa Dialogue, which was led by the Government of Uruguay and featured high-level Climate Champion, Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development.
The event was orchestrated by the members of the Nairobi Framework Partnership: UN Climate Change, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, African Development Bank Group, United Nations Environment, UNEP DTU Partnership, International Emissions Trading Association (IETA).