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New report: Forging low emission development paths in Latin America


A new publication from the LEDS GP’s Subnational Integration Working Group and LEDS LAC investigates the multi-level dynamics, from local to national level, that are underpinning low emission action in the region. ‘Forging low emission development paths in Latin America: Multilevel dynamics in the world’s most urbanized region presents an overview of low emission development trends in the  region, and compares country performances on key metrics. Highlights of the report include:

  • The relationship between the different levels of authority in a country is critical in determining both national and global capacity to govern climate change.
  • Global population growth is being led by second and third tier cities in developing countries. While this presents new opportunities, it also brings profound, unfamiliar governance challenges.
  • While the total population of LAC increased by 185 million between 1990 and 2015, the total urban population increased by more than 189 million.
  • In the majority of the 48 countries analyzed, the percentage change in urban population since 1990 was greater than the percentage change in total population of the country. In some cases the difference is quite large. This has important implications for shifting governance dynamics.
  • Since 1990, the subregions of LAC have been rapidly urbanizing without delivering emission reductions. Carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement production are rising faster than the rate of urban population growth, which again is increasing faster than the rate of national population growth. This trend is especially evident in South America.
  • Cities and regions in LAC have not yet had notable influence on national climate governance frameworks. The approach and financing of climate policy has been characterized by an uncoordinated, top down approach.
  • Although multilevel governance and intersectoral collaboration towards domestic implementation of the NDCs and long term LEDS in LAC is still incipient, there are important examples of progress.

The report aims to raise awareness and facilitate discussions on accelerating and achieving nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and long term low emission development strategies (LEDS).

Produced by the LEDS GP Subnational Integration Working Group, this report responds to a request at the fourth annual meeting of LEDS GP in the Dominican Republic in October 2015, where members asked for more comprehensive information on the associations between urbanization trends, greenhouse gas emissions, LEDS, and—more specifically—how city, regional, and national governments can improve collaboration to achieve NDCs.

It also complements the series LEDSinLAC and the ‘Policy Paper on Inter-institutional Coordination Mechanisms for an Effective Climate Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean,’ both prepared by the LEDS Regional Platform for Latin America and the Caribbean (LEDS LAC). LEDSinLAC 2016, released in January 2017, is the second edition of this initiative, which broadly maps and analyzes the state of LEDS in the LAC region.

Download ‘Forging low emission development paths in Latin America: Multi-level dynamics in the world’s most urbanized region’ here

Data Explorer

Relevant data on urbanization and CO2 emissions have been collated for this report in an effort to support discussions on multilevel governance and the subnational integration of LEDS. As well as providing insights for a better understanding of subnational/national contexts, the data are also valuable for comparing trends between different countries and regions. This can calibrate objectives and ambition levels, as well as identifying partners for learning and sharing best practices. Towards this objective of creating a community of practice, this report includes a simple, web based Data Explorer that can be used to analyze current and historical relationships between population, urbanization, CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement manufacturing, and GDP.

Access the Data Explorer here

Photo: Scott Muller