With the election of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (known as PPK) as its new president, Peru is poised to be a major leader in combatting climate change and, in particular, the global effort to preserve tropical forests. He will succeed Ollanta Humala as Peru's president on 28 July.
This is great news for the climate. PPK has already indicated, through a spokesman, that he intends to create a National System for Climate Change (Sistema Nacional de Cambio Climatico) whose goal will be to stimulate economic growth that is sustainable and benefits the environment. He emphasized that seeking ratification in the Congress of Peru’s commitments under the Paris Accord is a high priority.
PPK’s election is especially good news for forests. With more than 68 million hectares of forests, Peru has one of the world’s five largest, most diverse and best-preserved tropical forest areas. In a forthcoming book, Why Forests? Why Now?, CGD researchers Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch explain that forests offer the only completely safe and natural mechanism to capture and store carbon and provide evidence that stopping deforestation and allowing damaged forests to grow back could result in reductions equivalent to as much as 3 percent of current global greenhouse gas emissions.
PPK has long been a proponent and active champion of clean water for all and watershed management to address water shortages from climate related loss of Andean glaciers. During his campaign he proposed a program to reforest the Andean foothills both for watershed protection and climate mitigation. An important initiative of the new government will be the sustainable use of forests and consolidation of the National Program of Forest Conservation to Mitigate Climate Change.
As co-chair, with CGD President Nancy Birdsall, of our working group on accelerating payments to tropical forest countries for their performance in preserving forests, PPK urged the whole world – and especially rich countries -- to pay for the climate services that tropical forests provide. Last December, he and Nancy sent a strong message to negotiators in Paris in support of REDD+ in their opinion piece in the Guardian. Peru already has signed an agreement with Norway and Germany under which the rich countries have agreed to pay up to $300 million for reduced emissions from deforestation, a recognition of the climate service that conservation of Peru’s tropical forests provides to everyone in the world. Under the three countries’ Joint Declaration of Intent, Peru has agreed to increase by at least 5 million hectares the demarcation and titling of lands owned by indigenous peoples. CGD’s Frances Seymour highlighted the importance of the agreement in a blog at the time. We expect that the new president will support and possibly expand these important initiatives.
Following on Peru’s leadership in hosting the Lima climate summit and encouraging forest protection in the Lima Challenge, we look forward under PPK’s leadership to a continuation of Peru’s role as a champion of the global effort to combat climate change and in particular to ambitious actions to protect Peru’s tropical forests.