Supreme Decree Nº 003-2022-MINAM declaring the climate emergency to be of national interest marks a path towards the future in our country, given the State’s recognition that we are facing an emergency, and this is very important because it highlights the seriousness of the problem.

By Doris Balvín

Until recently, this reality was not recognised by the authorities. At the sit-in held by the youth collectives organised by Friday for the Future on 29 November 2019, the Minister for the Environment, Fabiola Muñoz, told the young people that she did not agree with their proposal to declare a climate emergency because it would “create fear and rejection” among citizens [1]; statements that were certainly very regrettable, but which were part of the government’s “common sense” at the time.

We welcome the fact that we are now at a different stage and that the government of President Pedro Castillo has taken the first step to meet the demands of the new generations who are clamouring for intergenerational equity and climate justice. It can be said that, in this way, Peru is showing the political will to contribute decisively to facing one of the greatest challenges facing the human species in the immediate future: stabilising the planet’s climate and avoiding climate collapse.

The positive aspects of the decree

The decree is intended as a response to set in motion State action to comply with the commitments made by Peru in the Paris Agreement, and is aimed at specifying policy measures or management instruments that would make it possible to respond to the climate emergency and/or allocate a budget for its implementation. In this sense, it can be said that it is a step forward. It includes as priority lines of action: climate governance, climate change education, monitoring and follow-up, climate finance, as well as human rights and climate justice.

It is a first attempt to link economic recovery, financing and responses to climate change in compliance with the Nationally Determined Contributions, and to specify some measures that were not explicit in the Framework Law on Climate Change. Thus, we have the case of specifying that the National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP) incorporates the integral management of climate change in the update of the Master Plan of the natural protected areas; or adaptation and mitigation measures that are part of the Nationally Determined Contributions in the Master Plans of the referred areas, key in the protection of the Amazon; as well as the monitoring and follow-up that will help to address mitigation and in particular adaptation to climate change, given our case of a highly vulnerable country.

Another novelty introduced by the decree refers to the promotion of non-conventional renewable energies, such as the promotion of green hydrogen and electro mobility. The Ministry of Transport and Communications should propose actions such as: updating the National Vehicle Regulations to promote the entry of electric, hybrid and green hydrogen-powered vehicles; and designing, in coordination with the competent authorities, mechanisms to promote electromobility with an emphasis on urban transport. This is the only measure with an impact on the urban environment that is worth highlighting.

Similarly, the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation (MIDAGRI) and the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (SERFOR), in accordance with their competences, will prioritise measures to strengthen forest governance and control deforestation, in order to reduce deforestation by up to 30% by 2030.

What remains to be done

Most of the measures are only declarative and somewhat vague, such as the one that refers that the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, through the Secretariat of Government and Digital Transformation, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, will promote the strategic use of digital technologies and data as part of the adaptation and mitigation measures to climate change at the national level; o promote the inclusion of criteria related to adaptation and mitigation in the Action Plan for the development of the Second Agrarian Reform; declarative and promotional measures that do not necessarily imply the allocation of budget, which is what is required given the urgency of action on these issues.

On the other hand, the measures envisaged are given in a logic that does not question the current global economic structure, and unfortunately does not aim to orient post-pandemic economic reactivation to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change; rather, it puts us at the service of the logic of economic growth without limits using market mechanisms such as carbon, which is seriously questioned by civil society groups. It provides for the Ministry of Economy to evaluate, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, the determination of the price of carbon and, based on this, to identify the actions required for its progressive application in Peru, i.e., you have the right to pay for polluting in a perverse logic that seeks to maintain the status quo.

It also makes it possible for the authorities to identify mechanisms to access sources of funding, strengthen financial dependence to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, without questioning where the root of the problem lies.

In my opinion, these measures are based on the assessment that it is up to us as a country to continue growing without questioning how, and they do not address the post-pandemic economic recovery in the context of the climate crisis. Nor do they take into account that changes are taking place in the world energy matrix that require us to redefine our position in the global economy, producing substantial changes in the extractivist production structure, which is what reinforces climate change. In this sense, our task is not only to comply with the Nationally Determined Contributions, derived from the Paris Agreement, but it will also be essential to move away from extractivism.

In this context, concrete measures aimed at energy transformation are key, such as turning Perupetro, today a promoter of oil investment, into a company that promotes non-conventional renewable energies; and Petroperu, today dedicated to oil extraction, into a company that leads the energy reconversion towards non-conventional renewable energies. Similarly, policies that make it possible to transform our productive structure will be key, as has been proposed by the various groups that are part of the Eco Social Alliance[2] .

Indeed, the Eco Social Pact proposes reorienting economic reactivation with a focus on ecological, social, solidarity-based and popular economy towards a socio-ecological transformation, favouring the development of solid decentralised economies and promoting the development of a local and regional business sector that guarantees rights and adds value to the ecological and cultural diversity of its territories; creating value chains and increasing the ecological production of goods and services[3].

In other words, placing an economy based on food security and sovereignty at the heart of our well-being, as well as adopting key measures such as protecting our water sources; our coastal marine resources (avoiding the risk of ecological disasters such as oil spills at sea or in the Amazon); and especially protecting the Amazon to prevent it from entering a point of no return, putting our water sources at risk – this last task requires a regional approach involving all Amazonian countries.

It should also be noted that measures proposed by the Eco Social Alliance in the aforementioned open letter to the President of the Republic last July have not been taken into account, such as:

  1. The implementation of emergency employment programmes and the promotion of enterprises linked to climate change adaptation and mitigation. For example: reforestation, planting and harvesting water, green infrastructure, sustainable mobility, sustainable manufacturing, among others;
  2. Effective protection of the Amazon, combating the activities that cause its destruction: illegal logging, illegal mining, change of land use for agricultural expansion, drug trafficking, among others -investing in sustainable economic alternatives, in intercultural dialogue with indigenous and local communities-;
  3. Reforestation and recovery programmes for degraded forests with the active participation of indigenous peoples until zero deforestation is achieved;
  4. comply with the international commitment to protect at least 10% of our maritime domain, not only for environmental conservation but also to guarantee the fishing productivity of our sea, reorienting the fishing industry from indirect human consumption to direct human consumption, to guarantee food and nutritional security, supporting artisanal fishing and aquaculture;
  5. take advantage of the new cycle of high mineral prices without repeating the mistakes of the past, implementing the pending reforms in the mining sector in environmental and taxation terms and respecting the will of local communities – directing surpluses to productive diversification and strengthening local economies.

We therefore see that the measures proposed – in the regulation declaring the climate emergency – although they are a step forward, are not sufficient to address the scale of the climate crisis and unfortunately do not respond to a long-term government strategy. Orienting policies towards fulfilling our commitments derived from the Paris Agreement does not guarantee what is required today for the future to produce a real economic and cultural transformation necessary to harmonise the human-nature relationship in an evolutionary direction; a transformation that places human beings, and not money, as the central value in our society and that recovers our common home.

Lawyer, Mg. in Urban Environmental Management, activist in social ecology, member of the Centro de Estudios Humanistas Nueva Civilización, Coordinator of the Network of activities beyond Climate Change and collaborator of Pressenza International.

[1] See, dialogue between the young people of Fridays for the Future and the former Minister of the Environment, Fabiola Muñoz during the presentation of the Ecosocial Pact and her request to declare the country a climate emergency

[2] See Open letter to those elected for the period 2021 – 2026, congressmen and president Pedro Castillo “Economic reactivation must promote the ecological transition”.

[3] Eco Social Pact complete document in the following link