Americas

Colombia’s Duque calls for debt-for-climate swaps

Head of state commits to curbing greenhouse gas emissions during US President Joe Biden’s climate summit

Laura Gamba   | 23.04.2021
Colombia’s Duque calls for debt-for-climate swaps Colombian president Ivan Duque

BOGOTA, Colombia 

Colombia's president asked countries Thursday to explore innovative mechanisms to fight climate change such as debt-for-climate swaps for effective climate protection.    

Speaking at a summit of world leaders convened by US President Joe Biden for Earth Day, Ivan Duque said the idea is to offer debt relief to developing countries that need it while investing the liberated funds in climate goals.  

"There is no doubt that climate change is the main challenge of our times," said Duque, opening his speech.  

The head of state pointed out that although the South American country represents only around 0.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is among the 20 countries most likely to be affected by climate change.  

“We have to be bold and decisive, and we have to act now,” said Duque.  

He announced Colombia’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 51% by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  

“We hope that these actions will also be strongly pursued by the countries that contribute the most to these emissions," he said. 

Reaching this goal requires more sustainable energy sources, cleaner mobility and continuing to fight and reduce the rate of deforestation in the Amazon, according to Duque. He said the country's goal is to plant 180 million trees by August 2022.  

“These are not promises. These are objectives that are based on the actions that we have taken.”  

The pledges came shortly after Biden promised to reduce US emissions by at least 50% by 2030. 

  Colombia, as Duque pointed out, is the second most biodiverse country in the world behind Brazil.  

“Our contribution to climate change is to protect that treasure,” he said.  

However, the challenge ahead is not easy. According to an annual report by NGO Global Witness, those on the frontline of environmental defense in Colombia are under great threat. The country leads the ranking with an increase in violence against defenders, with a total of 64 killings against community leaders in 2019.

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