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ECLAC Report on Mitigating Climate Change Effects

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 23 2014 (IPS) - A 2.5 degrees celsius increase in the world’s temperature would cost around 2.5 percent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while implementing actions to mitigate these effects would be more cost-effective, according to a new report released by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

“We calculated that the cost of adaptation would be 0.5 percent of the GDP, that is two points less than it will cost if we don’t do anything”, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena told reporters Monday.

Although the region has contributed relatively little to global greenhouse gas emissions (around nine percent), steps need to be taken to keep this figure low in the future, especially because key industries are involved:

“We should be responsible in terms of emissions, because agriculture and forestry are the two main sectors that are causing these emissions in Latin America”, said Bárcena.

Discourse around climate change is crucial because the region is highly vulnerable to its effects.

Explaining the effects of changing patterns of temperature and precipitation, Bárcena highlighted that precipitations will move south in South America and north in Central America.

The report indicates that one of the sectors that is going to be mostly affected in Latin America is agriculture and that it will be moving towards the south.

The climate change will therefore provide losses as well as gains, depending on the areas analysed and the adaptation measures implemented.

The rising level of the oceans threatens the long coastal line of South and Central America and the Caribbean, while the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are on the frontline due to the unique nature of their economy.

The report identifies several measures that countries can implement, in the six sectors of agriculture, coastal areas, health, water, biodiversity and ecosystems and retreat of glaciers.

The recommendations range from diversification of crops, livestock and forest to irrigation water management, from climate resistance building codes in coastal areas planning to training programmes on public health.

The report’s bottom line is that structural change is needed in the current development style, which involves production and consumption patterns that are largely based on the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

As it is, development is “not sustainable, considering its simultaneous impact on economic, social and environmental conditions, as reflected fully in the climate change challenge.”

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