SANTIAGO — Up to 40 percent of the biodiversity of some Latin American nations could be wiped out by 2100 if climate talks in Copenhagen fail to seal a global warming deal, a UN body warned.
A grim report by the Chile-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), warned the region, one of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, could bear one of the heaviest costs of climate change.
"With a global temperature rise over 3 degrees Celsius, some countries or regions could lose up to 30 or 40 percent of their biodiversity," the report said.
Such increases in temperature would lead to a sharp fall in rainfall in the Amazon "causing a substantial deterioration of jungles that are home to one of the world's largest concentrations of biodiversity."
Rising sea levels would cause a huge movement of populations and the loss of land, while mangroves on the lower coasts of countries such as Brazil, Ecuador and Guyana might be swamped forever. Coastal areas of the River Plate in Argentina and Uruguay could also be seriously threatened.
"If no international agreement is reached to mitigate the effects of climate change, the cost for Latin America and the Caribbean could be equivalent to 137 percent of the region's current GDP by 2100," the report warned.
By 2100 the cost of climate disasters could reach an estimated 250 billion dollars a year, shooting up from the current annual average of 8.6 billion dollars.
Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru could be among the countries worst hit, losing up to 60 percent of their arable lands, while water supplies could dwindle, said the ECLAC report unveiled at the Copenhagen conference.
It stressed that the effects of unbridled climate change would vary from country to country, and remain unpredictable throughout this century.
Some places like Argentina, Chile or even Uruguay might even see an initial increase in agricultural production thanks to rising temperatures if they climbed some 1.5 to two degrees from now until 2050.
But anything above two degrees would be harmful in the long term.
"Although Latin America and the Caribbean is the second region in the world with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions after Africa, it is nevertheless suffering the effects of global warming more than any other," the study said.
"This urgently demands technological and financial support from developed countries for the region's efforts of adaptation and mitigation."
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