COP20 delegates yesterday received a compelling overview of the evidence for climate change science from the former Vice-President of the United States, Al Gore.
Gore’s Climate Reality Project trains thousands of people around the world in basics of climate science.
Gore remarked that Andean glaciers were shrinking in extent by 3% a year, and that Peru’s glaciers had shrunk by 40% since 1970. He spoke of Peru’s role as custodian of more than seven billion tonnes of carbon in the Amazon rainforest—more than emissions of the United States for 2013.
According to the Carnegie Institute for Science, more than one million tonnes of carbon are at imminent risk of release into the atmosphere because of deforestation in Peru. Major causes include oil exploration, illegal gold mining and logging, and the conversion of forest to oil palm plantations.
Gore commended the Peruvian government’s effort to tackle illegal industries in the region.
“Of course, more needs to be done but let’s recognize the progress,” said Gore.
Remarking on the recent deal struck between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce emissions, Gore expressed optimism for the talks in Lima.
“I know these men,” he said, “And this is the most positive movement on climate change I have seen in forty years.”
Later in the day, the UN and Peruvian government released a new study of the economic projections for the nation and Latin America under different global warming scenarios.
The report predicts a drop in average GDP of 3% with 2.5 ˚C rise in average global temperature. Since the late 19th century, the temperature has risen by 0.8 ˚C and scientists estimate it will continue to rise to 3.5˚C within decades even if all countries follow through on their current commitments to action.
However, the study also says that with adaptation measures, such as better disaster and natural resource management, the cost to GDP might be only 0.5%.
Commenting on the study, the Deputy Minister for the Strategic Development of Natural Resources, Gabriel Quijandría, said it showed that many of Peru’s key industries were at highly exposed to further warming, including mining, fisheries, and farming.
_Schoolchildren make way to COP20 (Photo: COrey Watts/Peru this Week)_
“When we talk about climate change we talk about people—people affected in their daily lives,” Quijandría said.
To this effect, Gore paid tribute to Peruvian anti-logging activist Edwin Chota and three others allegedly murdered by illegal loggers in September.
Earlier, 100 Peruvian schoolchildren delivered a 2.2 million-person petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President Humala, and COP President Manuel Pulgar Vidal, calling for 100% clean energy. The former U.S. Vice-President spoke at Lima’s COP20 event Wednesday.