Fast Decarbonization of Latin American Economies

The Climate Institute is launching an effort to analyze the conditions, costs, barriers and benefits of full decarbonization of economies in Latin America, in the context of the overall endowment of natural resources, trends in economics and policy advances. The proposed effort will be a follow-up of previous[1] regional-scale analysis that estimated the investments, costs, benefits and associated policies that could de-link the economies from carbon emissions.

What is now intended is to go granular at a country level. That is, to undertake country-based analysis of what needs to be done and what would be the associated costs and benefits to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. The intention is to do this in countries that are representative of the conditions in the region, and which could be used as examples and inspiration worldwide. As it is, three countries are already well advanced in the decarbonization process: Uruguay, Costa Rica and Chile.  

The new analysis, to be led by Walter Vergara, will be focused on Brazil and Chile and will use state of the art tools, aided by GACMO and GCAM, two advanced models to estimate cost competitiveness of mitigation actions and the implications of climate action at a national level.  

The first step will be to get an accurate picture of where Brazil and Chile stand now and what have been the recent trends. The sectors and actions envisioned are to get to zero deforestation and start a large-scale program of reforestation; to move all the power sector to renewables at a scale that would enable electrification of the economy; to electrify the transport to fully displace fossil fuels; to electrify the industrial sectors and to displace emissions from agriculture. The report will review the impacts of these actions on labor, education, entrepreneurship, oil and coal production, commerce and industrial policy. 

The objective is to have a first draft of the report before the end of the year and aim for official publication and dissemination by the COP in Brazil November 2024.

[1] Zero Carbon Latin America. UNEP-DTU, 2015; The opportunity, cost and benefits of the coupled decarbonization of Power and Transport in Latin America. The Climate Institute, 2021.

Read the Report about Decarbonization in Latin America

About Walter Vergara

Vice President of Latin America Programs

Mr. Vergara is a climate specialist with long-standing interests in a variety of climate adaptation and mitigation topics.  He is vice-president for  Latin America for the Climate Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Mr. Vergara organized and directed the 20×20 initiative at the World Resources Institute, an ambitious, country-led land restoration effort aimed at substantially contributing to a reduction in the carbon footprint of land use and land use change activities in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Mr. Vergara retired from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 2014 where he was the organizer and first Chief of the Division for Climate Change and Sustainability. Before that and for 25 years Mr. Vergara was at the World Bank where his last post was as leader of the Global Expert Team on Climate Change. At the World Bank, Mr. Vergara delivered to the Board many climate operations, including the first ever climate operation in the transport sector and the first adaptation project.

During his career Mr. Vergara has authored or coauthored 14 books and numerous technical articles.  His last publications were: “The Opportunity Cost of the Coupled Decarbonization of Power and Transport in Latin America” published by the Climate Institute and “The Economic Argument for Land Restoration in Latin America”, published as a discussion paper by WRI. He was a review editor in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

Mr. Vergara is a Chemical Engineer by training with degrees from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Cornell University.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bird Conservancy, the Fundación Natura and Sustainable Harvest International. Isabel, his wife of 48 years is an emeritus professor at George Washington University.