Photo: Tortoises from the Galapagos Islands - Planet Ark
Latin America and the Caribbean face annual damages in the order of $100 billion by 2050 from diminishing agricultural yields, disappearing glaciers, flooding, droughts and other events triggered by a warming planet, according to the findings of a new report to be released at the Rio+20 summit.
On the positive side, the cost of investments in adaptation to address these impacts is much smaller, in the order of one tenth the physical damages, according to the study jointly produced by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
However, the study also notes that forceful reductions in global emissions of greenhouse gases are needed to avert some of the potentially catastrophic longer term consequences of climate change. The report estimates that countries would need to invest an additional $110 billion per year over the next four decades to decrease per capita carbon emissions to levels consistent with global climate stabilization goals.
Latin America and the Caribbean contribute only 11 percent of the emissions that cause global warming. However, countries are especially vulnerable to its effects, given the region’s dependence on natural resources, an infrastructure network that is susceptible to climate events, and the presence of bio-climate hotspots such as the Amazon basin, the Caribbean coral biome, coastal wetlands and fragile mountain eco-systems.
Mexico and Brazil have the largest land distribution just above sea level, making those countries vulnerable to rising sea levels.