The Benefits and Costs of Reaching Net Zero Emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Kalra, Nidhi;
Esteves, Fernando;
Cortés, Hermilio;
Rodríguez-Cervantes, Mateo Tonatiuh;
Espinoza-Juárez, Víctor Manuel;
Dec 2023
Are development and decarbonization conflicting or complementary goals? In this report, we explore how Latin America and the Caribbean can improve socioeconomic and development outcomes while also reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Specifically, we introduce SiSePuede, an open source decarbonization modeling toolkit that evaluates decarbonization actions costs, benefits, and emissions reductions across the economy. We find that maximizing actions could achieve net-zero emissions in the region before 2050 and net $2.7 trillion in benefits compared to more traditional development. Benefits include massive fuel cost savings; avoided costs from reduced air pollution, congestion, and car crashes; and the value of ecosystem services from forests. Although there are many paths to net-zero emissions, three actions are critical: producing electricity with renewables, electrifying transport, and protecting and restoring forests by halting deforestation and shifting food-production patterns. Economy-wide strategies that implement these actions at scale can reduce emissions dramatically and net enormous benefits to the region even amid deep uncertainties, with a median of $1 trillion in net benefits across all scenarios. These benefits are unevenly distributed across sectors and actors, and across time, so realizing them and ensuring a just transition to net zero requires governments to overcome important financing, regulatory, infrastructure, and other barriers. Each country must tailor its own strategy to address development and emissions goals based on local priorities, capabilities, resources, and technical capacity. SiSePuede provides a robust analytical foundation to support these efforts.