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200 governments in Peru for a major UN ‘climate change’ summit – 2014

The meeting of nearly 200 governments in Peru later this year for a major UN climate change summit must produce the first draft of a global deal to cut emissions, the country’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, says.

Huaytapallana, Peru

Due to the slow progress at the last round of talks in Warsaw, Poland, the Lima summit means that real progress is needed in key areas including climate finance and solutions on how to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. This meeting in Lima (December 2014) is a preliminary encounter leading up to a further summit in Paris (2015) where it is expected that global leaders will finally agree the terms for cutting emissions in rich and poor countries. Being discussed shall be the ‘Green Climate Fund’ (the transference of money from the developed to the developing world), the issue of  environmental justice – that rich consumerist-based countries should repay poor countries for the damage caused by climate change, and a UN scheme to tackle emissions caused by forests being cleared.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said he hoped the Lima summit would leave a legacy in his rapidly industrializing country by aiming for “green growth with clean technologies and low emissions … these options are fundamental for a nation such as ours which wants to continue growing. That’s our climate commitment.”

Peru has everything to loose from climate change – it is predicted to be the 3rd worst affected country in the world. Peruvians throughout Peru’s diverse geographies (desert Coast, Andes, Montana and Amazon Rainforests) are already said to be ‘living’ with the impact of raising temperatures and their consequences. It should be noted that Peru is home to some of the most concentrated and rare biodiversity on Earth – the Amazon River alone has 2,500 fish species, being ten times more than the whole of the Atlantic Ocean.

Glaciers Huaytaypallana, PeruInside Huaytapallana’s collapsing glaciers, 2010

‘10,000,000 hectares of forestlands have been deforested by Andean migrations; forest clearance by fire, indiscriminate felling of trees, narcotics and other causes’. (IIAP, 2006). Dr Antonio Brack-Egg, former Environment Minister (2010) said, ‘Where ecosystems remain almost intact, future politics should be directed toward the development of alternatives means of protection (Protected Zones), and of a use of resources that is innovative and by no means imply any further deforestation’. ‘Pobreza y manejo’.

Peru also has the world’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers, but has already lost 39% of them due to a 0.7C temperature rise in the Andes between 1939 and 2006. Collapsing glaciers have claimed over 40,000 lives in Peru.

Tropical Glaciers  are located in low tropical latitudes, but higher than those of temperate and Polar regions.

– South America  has 99% of the World’s tropical glaciers. Peru has 70% of this total glacial surface area.

– 1970s – 2006  glaciers in Peru and Bolivia have decreased by 30%.

– Scientific fact  lower elevation glaciers do not recover. Only glaciers higher than 5, 400 metres might recover their masses.

– Cordillera Blanca  here is Peru’s highest mountain, Huascarán at 6, 768 metres. The region contains a glacial coverage of 600 km², a quarter of the World’s total. The Pastoruri glacier at 5, 240 metres is radically reduced, and has approximately 20 years left as a glacier. Melt-water is forming lakes.

– Cordillera Vilcanota  at 5, 670 metres, the Quelccaya ice-cap, the World’s largest tropical ice-cap, has reduced in size by 30% since the 1970s when 6 metres was lost annually, today this figure is over 60 metres.

Historias-Insolitas PeruHistorias Insolitas, Andes, Peru

Peru has the world’s fourth largest area of rainforest and deforestation accounts for more than 40% of the country’s carbon emissions. Approximately 20% of emissions are generated by ranching and farming, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal has said. His ministry is working with the Carnegie Institution for Science in order to map the rainforest and measure carbon emissions and stocks.

In line with the Prime Minister of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, Pulgar-Vidal said, “People must understand that the standing forest has value and rewarding ecosystem services can lead to a change in behaviour, the issues are complex but we have clear strategies to tackle them.” An example would be financial compensation for Indigenous communities who work to conserve the Rainforest and engaging the private sector in forest preservation.

Environmental lawlessness – mafia-based logging and extensive gold mining throughout the Amazon, markedly since the Putumayo Rubber boom (1900s), present the biggest threats to Peru’s forest cover. Pulgar-Vidal says an action plan to ban illicit materials and regulate miners are in place, but changes will take time.

BlackStarCuban

Based on my environmental research in Peru – these are very weak words from an Environment Minister and show a complete denial of the true facts. The ‘Peruvian Institute for Natural Resources’, INRENA, has asked for a crack unit – meaning a specialist division with professional training and legal back-ups to tackle mafia-based operations. The latter being armed and murderous. The premio reportaje sobre biodiversidad travel/scientific writers and Amazonian intellectuals such as Róger Rumrrill, are in agreement that environmental lawlessness is in the high 90% range. Nearly all timber leaving Peru is illegal and practically never sourced in a sustainable manner.

The following table, compiled by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (2010) and taken from my doctoral thesis, acknowledges the outstanding capacity of Peru’s informal gold market in securing international attention and distribution networks, based on the capitalistic dynamics of supply and demand:

Great Informal Production of Gold
Peru legally produces 170 tons of gold per year. However, there are a further 44 tons
(US$ 1. 300 million) that are extracted by illegal gold mining within four zones:

MADRE DE DIOS
US$600 millones*
por 16 toneladas˚ de oro
PIURA
US$300 millones
por 12 toneladas de oro
NASCA
US$204 millones
por 8 toneladas de oro
PUNO
US$200 millones
por 8 toneladas de oro

* = million        ˚ = ton

 

Michael Jacobs, 1952 – 2014, amante of Latin America, travel writer & historian

 

Michael Jacobs, booksOn March 21st 2013, Michael Jacobs came to ‘Latin America in Bristol’ to give a book reading on his travels in 2011 along the Río Magdalena – a majestic river that carves through the heart of Colombia & is emblematic of the fascination & tragedy of South America. In his talk and book, he conveyed the intricacies of the river’s voices & history, describing exploration, memory, a chance meeting with Gabriel García Márquez, environmental decline & political violence.

I conducted a small and fun interview with him for this website (see ‘Radio Continente’ link) before he jumped on a train to London, flying out the following morning to his home amid olive-groves in Andalucia. Sadly, he passed away in January 2014.

Dr Matthew Brown of Bristol University’s Hispanic Department purchased a signed copy of his book, The robber of memories, that evening and since informed me of this tragedy saying, ‘Very sad, he was a lovely man, wonderful writer’. His death provoked a lot of commentary on his writing – mostly from Latin American people. Respectfully, the Spanish and Americas wing of the Hay literary festival is to launch a special bursary in Michael’s memory to fund travel writing in Latin America.

Full article by Ed Vulliamy here:
www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/19/michael-jacobs-travel-writer-obituary