Colombia on tackling climate change

Colombia President, Juan Manuel Santos. Photo: Center for American Progress.

Reuters reports: "Colombian president promises new commitment to tackling climate change"

Some excerpts on the situation in CIAT's home base--

"Often described as the most biodiverse nation per square kilometer in Latin America, Colombia is home to relatively intact swathes of Amazon rainforest and an almost pristine Pacific coastline.

The country's protracted armed conflict has partly helped to preserve forests, has discouraged large-scale industrial projects in Colombia's biodiverse hotspots and has kept major logging companies in the Amazon at bay. 'Colombia is basically unspoiled. The country has an enormous starting point for sustainable development,' said Juan Manuel Soto, head of Green Action in Colombia, a global non-governmental organisation that campaigns to reduce deforestation.

...But protecting Colombia's biodiverse regions and keeping carbon emissions low is a pressing challenge as Latin America's third most populous country becomes more developed.

...Colombia's new president Santos has urged industrialized nations to help Latin America reduce deforestation by supporting initiatives that offer developing countries financial incentives and credits to preserve forests, under the developing UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, effort.

...Reflecting the new government's commitment to environmental issues, the Santos government has proposed setting up a separate environment ministry - the ministry is currently attached to the ministry of housing and development - and has appointed Colombia's first special presidential advisor on the environment.

...Colombia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, experts say. The country faces coastal erosion on both its Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean coastlines, and communities living in low lying coastal areas are at risk from rising sea levels.

In the Andean mountains, the retreat of glaciers is already affecting local water supplies. Local glaciologists estimate that if Colombia's glaciers continue to melt at current rates then within 25 years they are all expected to disappear.

...In recent years, Colombia has focused on developing its biofuel sector - renewable fuels derived from crops such as maize and sugar cane - to spur economic growth and rural development.

But experts increasingly question whether such fuels should be a leading part of the push to replace fossil fuels..."

Read the full article here.