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At UN General Assembly, Latin American Leaders Call for Climate Action

Henry Shuldiner

At the 2021 UN General Assembly, Latin American leaders were outspoken in their calls for climate action. From regional powerhouses like Argentina to small island states like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, presidents and prime ministers warned about the catastrophic consequences of climate change for this vulnerable region.

Latin America is responsible for only 8 percent of global emissions, but the region’s governments are increasingly active in multilateral forums, including at the UN. In 2019, Chile helped organize the Conference of the Parties (COP25) UN climate change conference. President Joe Biden invited seven Latin American leaders to the White House virtual climate summit in April 2021. In August 2021, Argentina hosted a virtual regional climate summit that included remarks by the UN secretary general and John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy. Latin American delegations are expected to play an important role at COP26, in Scotland, later this year.

This regional push for action comes amid intensifying impacts in Latin America from the warming climate. Central America and the Caribbean are suffering another above average hurricane season, while a drought in South America is threatening Brazil’s energy supplies and tormenting Argentine shipping companies along the Paraná River. Nevertheless, the region’s top two emitters, Brazil and Mexico, are laggards. President Jair Bolsonaro has presided over massive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, while President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has cast his lot with Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, to drive post-pandemic economic recovery.

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About the Author

Henry Shuldiner

Henry Shuldiner

Intern Fall 2021
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Latin American Program

The Wilson Center’s prestigious Latin American Program provides non-partisan expertise to a broad community of decision makers in the United States and Latin America on critical policy issues facing the Hemisphere. The Program provides insightful and actionable research for policymakers, private sector leaders, journalists, and public intellectuals in the United States and Latin America. To bridge the gap between scholarship and policy action, it fosters new inquiry, sponsors high-level public and private meetings among multiple stakeholders, and explores policy options to improve outcomes for citizens throughout the Americas. Drawing on the Wilson Center’s strength as the nation’s key non-partisan forum, the Program serves as a trusted source of analysis and a vital point of contact between the worlds of scholarship and action.  Read more