Saturday, June 3, 2017

Colombia's Climate Contradictions

Congested cars on Calle 26 pump carbon dioxide into the air. Colombians buy more than 20,000 new cars per month.
Donald Trump has taken a wrecking ball to international cooperation, to the United States' image and to the planet's future by withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

However, judging by the climate policies of the rest of the world, including Colombia, which is supposedly sticking with the accord, the agreement is headed for failure, anyway.

Colombia seems like a good example of this:

The country signed the Paris agreement, but has proceeded to enthusiastically dig as many fossil fuels
Colombian oil production, in red, and consumption, in black.
(Chart: Wikipedia.)
out of the ground as possible. Colombia's production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is still growing fast, and oil production may level off only because they can't find more of it.

Ecopetrol's Reficar Cartagena refinery complex,
recently expanded.
The country also made a major long-term investment in the fossil fuels industry by modernizing Ecopetrol's Reficar refinery in Cartagena, a project which went $6 billion over budget, spurring corruption investigations.

Meanwhile, Colombian car ownership is booming, and deforestation rages on.

Still, Colombia is doing well compared to many other oil producers, particularly its neighbors Ecuador and Venezuela, both of which subsidize the price of gasoline and other energy forms, essentially paying people to waste energy. Venezuelan car owners pay only about one U.S. penny per liter to fill their tanks, but that hasn't stopped Caracas from signing the Paris agreement or lecturing developed countries about their environmental policies. Nor do other oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran, see any contradiction between signing the Paris agreement and producing oil and subsidizing its consumption.

Colombia also subsidizes its gasoline, though much less than does Venezuela.

Colombia is also said to be one of the world's most vulnerable nations to climate change.

World car sales are rising, and almost all of them burn fossil fuels.
(Chart: Andemos)
Needless to say, the world would be better off in many ways, besides in climate change terms, if it cut back on fossil fuel consumption: the air would be cleaner, cities would be quieter and more liveable, and people would likely get more exercise, from walking and bicycling. And fewer forests would be cleared.

Trump has squandered the U.S.'s leadership and moral standing as well as the planet's environmental future in return for a few votes and donations from fossil fuel producers. But at least give him credit for honesty. Trump withdrew from the climate agreement, instead of leaving the U.S. on the list while pursuing environmentally poisonous policies.

However, the danger now is that the rest of the world will use Trump as a convenient whipping boy, and an excuse not to act themselves.

Higher and higher: Colombian coal production. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel,
and Colobmia is producing more and more of it.
(Chart: Wikipedia)

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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