How Can Latin America Move to Low-Carbon Energy?

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CC BY 2.0 / USFWS/Joshua Winchell

WASHINGTON — Climate negotiators convened in Morocco, this month to discuss how to turn the Paris climate accord into action. The accord, signed by almost 200 countries last year, came into force on Nov. 4. Many questions persist about how each country can move toward the zero carbon-energy target that experts say is necessary to avoid destructive climate change. Some parts of the world are better positioned than others to take this test. Latin America is a good example.

The region faces some of the toughest obstacles to halting energy emissions, such as rapidly increasing car ownership. But many Latin American countries also have among the best opportunities to reach climate goals because of their extremely low-carbon electricity sectors.

There is growing evidence that the effects of climate change are already occurring. The last five years have been the hottest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Ice melt and warming temperatures that expand seawater have accelerated the rate of sea-level rise around the world, putting hundreds of millions of people in low-lying areas at risk. Warming temperatures also bring an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather events like storms, droughts and heat waves. Global warming can destroy agriculture, housing and roads across much of the planet, endangering everything from food security to energy supply.


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