Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Climate Change Threatens Peru's Economic Progress As Amazon Becomes Net Emitter of CO2

Climate
Climate Change Threatens Peru's Economic Progress As Amazon Becomes Net Emitter of CO2

By Alex Kirby

Peru is the country chosen to host the 2014 United Nations (UN) climate conference, a key meeting for trying to advance an ambitious plan to rein in greenhouse emissions which is planned for agreement in 2015.

Scientists think Peru's role reversal from being a carbon sink to a net emitter of CO2 in 2012 is result of droughts in the western Amazon. Photo credit: tadd_debbie /Flickr

But the country has recently earned a rather more dubious distinction. In 2012, for the first time, the Peruvian Amazon became a net emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) rather than oxygen, according to the latest human development country report of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The Amazon rainforest usually acts as a carbon sink, absorbing atmospheric CO2 rather than releasing it. Scientists think this reversal of its normal behavior results from the droughts in the western Amazon in 2005 and 2010 and say it shows Peru's vulnerability to climate change.

Peru has more than halved its poverty rate in the last decade, from 48.5 percent in 2004 to 25.8 percent in 2012. But the 2013 UNDP report said its vulnerability to a warming climate could cancel the progress it has made in directing economic growth into sustained poverty reduction.

Glaciers Going

One of the UNDP report's authors, Maria Eugenia Mujica, said: "If we disregard [environmental] sustainability, whatever progress we have made in poverty reduction or improvement of human development will just be erased due to climate change."

With a temperature rise in the Andes of 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1939 and 2006, Peru has already lost 39 percent of its tropical glaciers. Temperature rises of up to 6 degrees Celsius are expected in many parts of the Andes by the end of this century.

Peru's economic success is in some cases directly linked to activities which contribute to climate change, for example illegal gold mining and logging, and the cocaine trade—all of them environmentally destructive, but lucrative.

"The growth does not come from education or health, but from predatory activities, like [resource] extraction and mining," said Francisco Santa Cruz, another of the report's authors.

Peru is trying to protect itself against the ravages of a warmer world, but the odds are against it. It recently announced plans to invest $6 billion USD in renewable energy projects: around the same time came predictions that climate change could cost between 8 percent and 34 percent of its GDP. A report by the Inter-American Development Bank has said the entire Latin American and Caribbean region will face annual damages from global warming of about $100 billion USD by 2050.

Taken for Granted

The Global Canopy Programme and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, describing climate change as "a threat multiplier," called in a report this month for a new security agenda for Amazonia and the countries of the region.

Manuel Pulgar, Peru's environment minister, said at the report's launch: “Climate change is a global problem, but one that will multiply local and regional problems in unforeseeable ways."

"In Latin America, we have taken Amazonia and its seemingly limitless water and forests as a given," Pulgar continued. "But recent unprecedented droughts have shown us just what happens when that water security falters.

"It impacts food and energy production, it affects the wellbeing of entire populations, and it leaves governments and businesses with a big bill to pay," Pulgar concluded. "The science is clear, so we cannot afford to miss the opportunity for positive action now.”

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

 

Coast Guard members work to clean an oil spill impacting Delaware beaches. U.S. Coast Guard District 5

Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

What happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years? Halfpoint / Getty Images

By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie

Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?

Read More Show Less

Trending

Plain Naturals offers a wide variety of CBD products including oils, creams and gummies.

Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump and Joe Biden arrive onstage for the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.

Read More Show Less
What will happen to all these batteries once they wear out? Ronny Hartmann / AFP / Getty Images

By Zheng Chen and Darren H. S. Tan

As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch