Mountain climbers and skiers are witness to major changes in the Andean landscape over the past few decades. The main snow-covered peaks of the Andes have already lost between 30% and 50% of their glaciers. Climate models predict that this massive loss will continue in the coming decades as a result of global warming.
The impact of climate change also will affect coastal cities, infrastructure, agriculture, woodlands, human health, water systems and ecosystems. The global and regional climate impacts can be mitigated, however, through an international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius.
On September 9-11, Chile hosted the Latin America and Caribbean Carbon Forum. The event served as a platform to exchange experiences on innovative economic instruments and new climate financing strategies, which will enable Latin American countries to advance in their low-emissions development objectives and to contribute to a global process of climate change mitigation.
The Forum was held at a critical time, just months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The event served to contribute to defining regional and national strategies to mobilize private-sector investment, setting carbon prices and creating new emissions reduction market systems.
The effectiveness of climate change policies in Latin America will depend on the level of cooperation and standardization of economic instruments. While countries such as Mexico and Chile are implementing carbon taxes, other nations maintain fossil fuel subsidies, which produce environmental effects that counteract the impact of the carbon tax.
The divergence of policies among countries and the lack of regional coordination can hinder efforts, where the impact of the innovations of one country may be diminished by policies of other nations. The priority issues of cooperation in designing climate change policy and standardizing carbon prices throughout the region will define our future.
The adequate implementation of climate change policies will enable countries to mobilize investment in clean technologies, facilitate more diversified economies, create new opportunities for businesses and employment and greatly improve the environmental quality of cities.
We have reached a critical juncture, where the level of ambition of national and global climate change policies will determine the reduction of climate-related risks. It will also serve as a clear sign for the move forward to an unprecedented technological transformation.