Image credits: Krizjohn Rosales
News Article

Climate Crisis Threatens to Displace 17 million in Latin America

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 15:57

It has been another challenging year as humanity continues to confront exacerbated weather events from fires, earthquakes and most recently hurricanes—all while fighting off the latest COVID-19 wave. As warned by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year, it is code red for humanity and Latin American governments must ramp up their efforts to combat the climate crisis in order to avoid the worst. The crisis threatens to displace 17 million people by 2050 in the region, according to a report by the World Bank.

Mexico, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses in Latin America according to study by UNAM, should urgently address the climate crisis not only to avoid market disruptions and associated costs related to infrastructure damage, but to keep its people safe. However, during the past three years under the current administration, the country has experienced an estimated loss of US$7 billion in renewable investment. Despite its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the executive branch continues to reorient the market to favor state company PEMEX—the most polluting company in Latin America according to Business & Human Rights.

Under the current regulatory climate, developers and stakeholders have largely held back on new investments. Nevertheless, despite the best efforts from the executive branch, much of the regulatory framework remains the same, effectively leaving the energy market at a stalemate. This however has not stopped the administration from trying again, being as they plan to submit a new energy reform later this month. Although the future of this bill is uncertain, failure to get passed this stalemate will have direct consequences for millions in and outside of Mexico.

The Groundswell Report by the WB forecasts massive migrations of climate refugees as early as 2030, which could intensify by 2050. In Latin America, as many as 17 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050 without concerted efforts to combat climate change. In a more inclusive development scenario, the number could contract to 10.6 million by 2050 but in the most climate-friendly scenario, the figure is reduced by 45 percent to 4.9 million. Those most vulnerable to the potential effects of the climate crisis will be felt “particularly [by] the world’s poorest—those who are contributing the least to its causes,” said Juergen Voegele, Vice President of Sustainable Development at World Bank.

Mexico, which is currently grappling with a debilitating drought, regional flooding and endured three hurricanes in the span of a month should plainly see the the urgency to address this global issue. Another indicator, is the country's inability to provide basic necessities like food and shelter to the 77,000 migrants looking to make their way to the United States in 2021. These migrants only represent 4.53 percent of the possible influx it could potentially see in 2050. From here, the best way to avoid the realization of this forecast is through prevention, and Mexico undoubtedly the technological capacity and know how to reduce their carbon footprint. 

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
World Bank, UN, Business & Human Rights
Photo by:   Krizjohn Rosales
Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst