Peru announced April 26 that it will implement its own climate change initiative, in light of the continued absence of an international treaty. While Peru is the source of only some 0.4% of the world’s carbon emissions, it may be especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The government says the country is experiencing disturbing climactic changes. “If we don’t do something we will have problems with water supplies along the coasts, we know there will be more droughts, more rains,” said Mariano Felipe Soldán, , head of the government’s strategic planning office. “We are already seeing temperature changes.” A glacier on Peru’s Huaytapallana peak (Junín region) is half the size it was just 23 years ago. A 2009 World Bank report warned that Andean glaciers could disappear in 20 years if no action is taken to slow climate change.* They are already reduced by 22%, resulting in 12% less fresh water reaching the coast—where the majority of Andean region’s people live.
Few details on Peru’s plan have been disclosed, but will address illegal logging in the Amazon, and will foster a conversion to renewable energy and fuels. Similar laws are being implemented in Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil. (Sustainable Business, Europa Press, April 27; Reuters, April 26) Mexico announced a similar plan four years ago.
On April 10, the international Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released a report finding that illegal logging thrives in Peru due to corruption and an inept bureaucracy. “For every legal tree, three illegal trees can be laundered,” said Julia Urrunaga, EIA forest and climate policy advisor. The report, dubbed “The Laundering Machine,” describes the “mechanism that the industry has developed” to outwit forestry authorities: “[T]he concessionaires submit for approval lists of trees that do not exist in the real world, and complicit authorities approve the extraction of this non-existent wood. Backed by these ‘volumes’ of imaginary trees, the corresponding official documents (Forest Transport Permits, or GTFs) are sold in the black market and used to launder wood extracted illegally from elsewhere—national parks, indigenous territories, other public lands.” (Latinamerica Press, April 27)
* The expected disappearance date of the world’s glaciers is of course a point of great controversy.