The climate: What will be Peru’s next move?

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Wednesday marked day three of international climate talks in Lima and the Peruvian government has outlined a flagship project exploring cleaner development in Peru.

The Deputy Minister for the Strategic Development of Natural Resources, Gabriel Quijandría, said the intention of the project, called PlanCC, was to support decision-making at all levels. Quijandría said that although Peru’s contribution to global climate change was marginal, and the plan ambitious, cutting emissions made economic sense.

Beginning in 2012, with the involvement of various experts and social representatives, PlanCC recommends 77 actions to help Peru deal with climate change. The actions include those that could be taken almost immediately, such as more efficient lighting; as well as long-term strategies to cut emissions from energy, transport, and other key areas.

“These measures would have a positive impact on GDP, increasing growth rates in the medium term. If this sounds like a luxury—one that developing countries cannot afford—then this study contradicts this assertion. There are clearly benefits from taking the low-carbon road,” said Quijandría.

The project’s Director, Lupe Guinand, said that Peru faces many barriers on the clean development path. In particular, she said, mining and energy interests often feel threatened, and there is still a large task ahead to shift attitudes in academia, politics, and business.

La Gorda
_Lupe Guinand, speaking at COP20 (Photo: Corey Watts/Peru this Week)_

However, Guinand pointed to the government’s programme to equip small, isolated communities with solar generators as a sign of progress.

“The law says that 5% of energy should come from renewables but this is not yet being met. We are at just 2.5%, so there is much work still to do, but we are improving, little by little,” said Guinand.

Guinand pointed out that Peru had already made massive investments in hydroelectricity and natural gas, which the government sees as the main game for several years to come.

“OK, we are not going fully solar but gas is an improvement, at least. It is cleaner than coal. Now we must think about how we can use that gas smartly.”

In the last few months, the European Union, China, and the United States have all made fresh commitments to raise their efforts to curb the growth in emissions. On Tuesday, Germany announced additional measures to cap emissions from coal power.

Asked what effect climate policies of Peru’s export partners might have on
domestic decisions, Guinand remarked on her own experiences working for the Andean Community—the customs union comprising Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

“The trade negotiators said then, ‘Don’t come to us with environment!’ We told them, ‘This is coming—environment will be included in trade agreements soon.’ This was about fifteen years ago but we saw it coming and we knew we had to be prepared.”

In 2006, the United States stipulated better environmental protection as a condition of a new trade promotion agreement with Peru, which Guinand said was a wake-up call for many.

Guinand pointed to the politicization of climate change as another hurdle on the road to progress.

In Anglophone countries in particular, acceptance of climate science has tended to be split down left-right lines, with many conservatives seeing it not as a problem but as a Trojan horse for a leftist agenda.

“I don’t think we have done enough to show that neither the left nor the right integrated environment into their ideas of development—neither of them thought about it,” Guinand said.

“We have to make a bigger effort in Peru to change minds; to show people that climate change is not a question of left or right, because we didn’t have these problems fifty years ago or if we had them we didn’t notice. Now we have them so we have to think again.”Peru this Week’s COP20 correspondent, Corey Watts investigates the direction Peru seems to be heading in terms of climate change issues.

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