Energy-Water-Land Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Perspective from the Paris Agreement Climate Mitigation Pledges

Date
Jun 2018
The concept of the energy, water, and land (EWL) nexus encompasses a growing concern on the availability of vital resources derived from these intertwined systems, and how to manage the nexus resources to respond to the challenges posed by future human demands, aggravated by the perspective of climate change. This paper explores how the Paris Pledges might influence the EWL nexus in Latin America. In particular, it explores the near-term and long-term implications of the Paris pledges on the EWL nexus in four of the major countries/economies in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. For this purpose, we employ the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), a state-of-the-art integrated assessment model of human and natural processes that captures the national-level EWL synergies and tradeoffs and allows the understanding of the key drivers of the EWL sectoral interactions and the role of climate policies such as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that are included in the Paris pledges. Our findings indicate that under the emissions mitigation scenarios explicitly modeled to represent the Paris pledges framework, potential conflicts regarding the use of nexus resources in the four focus Latin American countries may be exacerbated by the induced changes in the energy and land sectors that would impinge upon the water sector of those nations. Despite the differential implications of the Paris pledges on each country, increased water demands for crop and biomass irrigation and for electricity generation were identified as the potential sources of the nexus conflicts that may emerge under this climate policy scenario. Hence, this study underscores the need to refine national climate policies within a EWL nexus resource planning framework such that a balance between the rational use of the nexus resources and stringent climate policies can be found.