COP-21: Life as We Know it Will Change

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Whether you like it or not. With subsidies or not. Your life will change. Let me start telling you that an increasing part of your budget will be used to pay water and electricity bills. Food, and consequently restaurants, will become more expensive. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Latin America is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change impacts, which means an estimated annual cost by 2050 of about 2-4% of GDP. Of course, this cost will, somehow, be passed on. For your company or your bank account. Therefore, the discussion, that takes place in Paris until Friday December 11, 2015, is not an environmentalist chat and it cannot be restricted to Governments. Part of your future will be drawn there.

We’re running late for a new look at our urban reality. We grew disorderly, we consume more  and we pay the price for it. According to IDB, between 1950 and 2010, the rate of urbanization in Latin America increased from 41% to 79% and may reach 90% in 2030. Some cities in South America, such as São Paulo, are already close to this index. Energy demand, the driving force of our economy and also of our lives, jumped together. No wonder we fear so much a blackout, once much of our energy matrix is dependent of rain or fossil fuels.


What apparently we haven’t learned yet is that there’s no use in putting bandages on wounds. We need to eradicate the disease. The INDCs of Brazil and other countries in the region emphasize more the land-use issues, agriculture and deforestation, but they are still shy in dealing with the energy issue. Energy efficiency is one of the easiest ways to reduce emissions and represent, according to OLADE, a potential 20% in savings by using measures with short payback, such as automation and control engines and lighting replacement. Going a little deeper, we found out that national programs that create conditions so that energy efficiency is somewhat more widely used in the medium term could increase by 5% the commitment to reduce emissions in the five major South American economies (Argentina , Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru), not to mention reducing the cost of energy and time savings, while non conventional sources to gain scale and downloading their prices.

Of course, nothing is that simple and one reason is that we look at policies set in a different political, economic and environmental context, without considering the climate component. But it needs to change. Germany has become the most efficient nation from the energy point of view, according to the American Council for an Economy with Energy Efficiency (ACEEE), reviewing policies and practices, promoting from the grid transformation to subsidies for replacement of equipment. The private sector also has a key role. They should open dialogue to the Government in order to reach the ideal to educate thesociety in addition to its own issues for operational efficiency. To avoid 2 ° C extra, even small home lifestyle changes can make a difference in the fight for a sustainable future.

There’s also good news: global warming is already a concern of the Latin American, according to Pew Research. This is natural, after all, we’ve already felt their impacts. While Peru has estimated a decline of 15% in some of their markets, such as fishing and agriculture, as a result of El Niño, cities like São Paulo, the main economic center of the region, lives one of the worst droughts in its history, endangering not only the water but also electricity.

We hope there’s a deal in Paris but the only thing we know for sure is that life will change. So far, humanity has been reinvented and been able to create best scenarios, which inevitably evolved. Perhaps, we are facing a new crossroad; perhaps now is the time to use less.

If we don’t stop the waste and leave behind the immediacy culture, our balance will hardly be positive. We need to take advantage of the era of connectivity, that makes a decision easier and quicker, and understand, once for all, that what’s good for the Earth is good for the economy. And for our lives as well.


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