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particularly in terms of the agricultural sector, the health of the population, the availability of water, tourism, urban infrastructure, and biodiversity and ecosystems (Magrin et al., 2007). These effects could intensify in the future unless the necessary initiatives are taken at the global level to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and the appropriate measures and investments are undertaken to adjust to the new climate conditions.

It is expected that, by 2050, there will be threats to ecosystem services in the Andes and in Mexico, in the Central American and Caribbean sub-regions, and in southeastern Brazil, while there will be negative effects on fishing in the Pacific coastal areas of Peru and Chile. The decrease in precipitation will have adverse effects on agricultural yields in several regions and countries on the continent. Particularly noteworthy within LAC as a whole is the high degree of vulnerability that will be seen in the Central American and Caribbean sub-regions as a result of the increased frequency of extreme events expected to occur in the wake of climate change (figure 2.1). Moreover, the rises in the temperature of ocean surfaces will make for more frequent bleaching of coral reefs, with a negative impact on fishing and tourism. Likewise, under the scenario with the greatest rise in sea levels (A1F1), there will be a serious threat to the continued existence of mangroves in the low coastal areas, with serious implications for biological diversity (birds, fish, crustaceans, molluscs) in those locations.

Several studies examining both global and regional conditions, using different techniques and methods, point to significant economic costs associated with climate change. The total costs of failing to take action would amount to an ongoing annual cost of at least 5% of the world’s GDP (Stern, 2007). For Central America, estimates of the economic costs of climate change, up to the year 2100, using a discount rate of 0.5% – based on the impact


on the agricultural sector, biodiversity, water resources, and the damage from hurricanes, storms and floods – are equivalent to approximately 54% of the 2008 GDP of the Central American sub-region under scenario A2, and 32% of its 2008 GDP under scenario B2 (ELCAC/CCAD/DFID, 2010).

For Uruguay, using a discount rate of 4%, accumulated losses, up to the year 2100, are estimated at 50% of 2008 GDP under scenario A2 and 0.3% of 2008 GDP under the B2 scenario (ECLAC, 2010). In Chile, applying a discount rate of 4%, the accumulated economic costs due to climate change, up until 2100, are estimated at 0.82% of annual GDP under scenario A2 and 0.23% of annual GDP under scenario B2 (ECLAC/IDB/Government of Chile, 2009). For Mexico, estimates show that the economic costs of climate effects, up to 2100, using an annual discount rate of 4%, will reach an average of 6.22% of current GDP (Galindo, 2009). These costs, associated with climate change, thus act as a brake, intensifying budget constraints in the region’s countries as they continue attempts to reduce poverty and work towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (figure 2.2).

The effects of climate change on different countries are not proportional to their respective contributions to GHG emissions. Rather, they vary; in some cases, for certain time periods, the effects may even be positive in specific regions. This presents a general paradox: the countries that are the highest emitters suffer less impact, while those that are lower emitters experience the greatest impact. Metropolitan areas in the region are experiencing different levels of risk as a result of extreme events such as cyclones, floods and droughts. Owing to their location, the cities of Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as those in central and western Colombia and the coast areas of eastern Argentina and Brazil, are at the highest risk (high and very high) (figure 2.3).

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