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Climate Change: Latin America Is Part of the Solution

Available in: Español, Français
Press Release No:2009/106/LCR


In Paris: Sergio Jellinek +1 202 294-6232

Rachel Winter Jones + 33 (0)6 23 14 17 45


PARIS, October 6, 2008—With the effects of climate change already being felt across Latin America and the Caribbean, countries in the region working together with the World Bank have become part of the solution in fighting climate change while fostering economic growth, Pamela Cox, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, said today at the EU-Latin American Forum organized by the Government of France.  


She shared the frustration of many of the region’s leaders about the present financial turmoil, however, she emphasized that the region is better prepared to confront it due to diversified trade relations, an improved fiscal position, and steady economic growth in recent years.


Latin America is not responsible for the financial crisis, but is already being affected by it,” said Cox.


Likewise, Latin America is not a main source contributing to global climate change.  it is only producing about 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and just over 10 percent if we include deforestation. However, it already is suffering huge economic losses due to climate change,” she added.  


Countries in the region and its citizens-- and particularly the extreme poor-- are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It is cruel and ironic that those people who are the least responsible for causing the problem are also the most vulnerable and the ones with least resources to adapt,” said Cox.


Climate change-related falling precipitation levels and rising temperatures in the region already have been documented and urgent action is needed to reduce further negative impacts to the economy, particularly the agricultural sector.


She emphasized World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s call to move forward with a global partnership between developed and developing nations to improve environmental management while fostering economic development.


A more leveled playing field in the international climate change debate is needed in order to ensure that there is synergy, not antagonism, between the twin goals of economic growth and environmental responsibility in the economies of the region. It is our experience that, when presented in this context, Latin American countries are keen to do their part by engaging and leading,” added Cox.


Cox also thanked France and European Union countries for significant contributions to new large-scale concessional financing mechanisms, such as the multibillion dollar Climate Investment Funds, which enable multilateral development banks to support clean technology investments and the transition to low-carbon growth paths.


Recent World Bank climate change programs in the region include:


  • A US$501 million Development Policy Loan to support the government of Mexico’s climate change policy agenda, the first of its kind for the Bank. 
  • A program to address the impact of tropical glacier retreat in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.  
  • Climate change adaptation programs in the West Indies, including the strengthening of critical coastal infrastructure in St. Lucia, and a water desalinization project using wind energy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Up-to-the-minute-data and expertise derived from the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS) developed and operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to help formulate better measures to adapt to climate change threats in the region.
  • A new study to explore the possibility and implications of a massive die-back and "savannization" of the Amazon rainforest, a potentially disastrous impact of climate change, with effects on weather patterns not only in the region, but as far away as North America.

Upcoming initiatives include two relevant studies for Mexico and Brazil to provide customized assessments of pathways to low-carbon growth, and the November launch of a flagship report from the Chief Economist’s office on the economic impact of climate change in Latin America.




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