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News > Latin America

Nicaragua Demands Major Polluters be Held Accountable, Defends Decision to Refrain From Paris Agreement

  • Nicaragua's Dr. Paul Oquist has been a consistent critic of the Paris Agreement which he says does not do enough to hold major polluters legally accountable.

    Nicaragua's Dr. Paul Oquist has been a consistent critic of the Paris Agreement which he says does not do enough to hold major polluters legally accountable. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 June 2017

The ALBA country is the 4th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change's effects, and has made leaps and bounds toward sustainability.

Nicaragua re-affirmed its commitment to its decision to refrain from the Paris Agreement, and has criticized the accord for failing to hold the world's most major polluters accountable as well as not recognizing Central America as being one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change's effects, El Pueblo Presidente reported Thursday.

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When the United States President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change this week, it was widely noted that the U.S. would be joining only two other countries in the world in not signing the agreement: Nicaragua and Syria.

While Trump insisted that the agreement was “not fair” for U.S. interests in spite of the U.S. being among the world's largest polluters, Syria is embroiled in a bloody and devastating civil war, and Nicaragua maintains that the deal does not do enough to hold countries like the U.S. accountable. Voluntary commitment on the part of history's largest polluters, they say, is not enough.

Dr. Paul Oquist, Minister-Adviser of Public Policies of the Presidency of the Republic of Nicaragua, asserted that the Paris Agreement should take into consideration historical and financial responsibility for climate change, and be legally binding for the few countries who since the Industrial revolution have contributed more than 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Oquist pointed out that Nicaragua is only responsible for around 0.03 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Central American nation is among the lowest polluters in Latin America, with per-capita CO2 emissions only at 0.768 metric tons, according to the most recent World Bank data in 2013. The regional average for Latin America and the Caribbean is nearly four times this, at 3.039 metric tons per-capita.

The U.S. produced roughly 16.39 metric tons per-capita for that same year.

Speaking with Climate Home on the decision to refrain from the agreement, Oquist said “its not a matter of being trouble makers, its a matter of the developing countries surviving.”

Nicaragua has made unprecidented gains toward reducing dependency on fossil fuels in the past decade. It has invested heavily in the renewable energy sector, and given major tax breaks to companies producing renewable energy in the country.

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Currently, nearly 50 percent of the ALBA nation's energy is from renewable sources, and by 2020 the government has made an ambitious commitment to produce 90 percent of its energy renewably.

“I don't know of any other country in the world that has done this... You must recall that this is taking place in the second-poorest country in Latin America and amid the worst financial, economic, social and increasingly political crisis of world capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930's,” Oquist said to the Nicaragua Dispatch about the country's environmental achievements in 2012.

Central America is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the effects of climate change, facing drought and harm to agricultural systems, threatening food security for many of the region's poorest. Nicaragua is the 4th most vulnerable country to climate change's effects in the world, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2014.

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