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Latin America Should Spend $110 Billion to Cut Emissions

Latin America and the Caribbean should invest $110 billion a year through 2050 to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

The region will need to cut down fewer trees and use more energy produced from renewable sources to cut emissions to levels consistent with international efforts to fight global warming, the Washington-based lender said today in a statement.

Latin America and the Caribbean are responsible for 11 percent of global emissions. The region is especially susceptible to variations in the weather because of its reliance on agriculture, according to the statement.

“It’s especially important for developing countries to make major structural changes now and follow on a low-carbon path,” Walter Vergara, the IDB’s division chief of climate change and sustainability, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Latin America has all the ingredients for a future low-carbon economy,”

Countries in the region should seek to cut their per-capita emissions to 2 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year in 2050 from 8.5 tons in 2005, Vergara said.

That’s the global average required to prevent further climate change-related damage and “avoid crossing biospheric tipping points,” the IDB said in the statement.

Annual per-capita emissions were about 22.9 tons in the U.S. in 2005 and the global average was 6.7 tons, Vergara said.

The IDB plans to release a report detailing emission policies in the region June 20 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. It was produced with the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean and the World Wildlife Fund.

Saved Costs

A 2-degree Celsius (3-6 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels may cost the region about 2 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the statement. The loss of net agricultural exports may be as much as $52 billion in 2050.

Brazil and Mexico, with swathes of low land, will be vulnerable to rising sea levels, the IDB said.

“Spending $110 billion a year for a region that faces major development challenges is not an easy proposition,” Pablo Gutman, director of environmental economics at the Washington-based environmental group World Wildlife Fund, said in the statement. “However, this would also bring about major benefits such as improved food and energy security.”

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