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El cambio climtico en Ecuador

Por años, Ecuador ha experimentado sntomas de cambio climtico, como el derretimiento de sus glaciares. Este año (2008), la alteracin climtica est tambin dejando su huella en el pas. Estudios de los glaciares muestran una reduccin del 28% los ltimos diez años. Los cientficos estn preocupados debido a que estos glaciares proveen la mayor cantidad de agua para la agricultura de las montañas, el poder hidroelctrico, y las necesidades municipales. Mientras Ecuador enfrenta altos costos por reparar la inundaciones, los cambios de clima se han vuelto particularmente relevantes, pero son difciles de manejar por el Gobierno.

id: 151251

date: 4/24/2008 19:59

refid: 08QUITO369

origin: Embassy Quito

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

destination: 07QUITO1497|08QUITO225|08QUITO259

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----------------- header ends ----------------

 

UNCLAS QUITO 000369

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV, ECON, SMIG, SOCI, EC

SUBJECT: CLIMATE CHANGE IN ECUADOR

 

REF: A. QUITO 225

     B. 07 QUITO 1497

     C. QUITO 259

 

1.  (U) Summary:  For years Ecuador has been experiencing

symptoms of climate change such as glacial melting.  This

year, erratic weather is also leaving its mark on the

country.  Studies of the country's glaciers show a retreat of

at least 28% in the last ten years.  Scientists are concerned

because these same glaciers provide most of the water for

highland agriculture, hydropower, and municipal needs.  As

Ecuador faces clean-up costs from widespread flooding,

changes in climate have become particularly relevant, but

remain difficult for the GOE to adequately address.  End

summary.

 

 

 

Glacial Retreat and Deforestation

---------------------------------

 

2.   (U) Most in the NGO and scientific community in Ecuador

are concerned about glacial melting that is the result of

broader global warming.  INAMHI (the Insituto Nacional de

Meteorologia e Hidrologia), the Ministry of Energy and Mines'

national weather agency, estimates that glaciers covered

approximately 70 square kilometers in Ecuador in 2006, a 28%

decline from 1998.  This data is consistent with previous

studies showing a 30% decline of the Cotopaxi glacier, one of

Quito's primary sources of drinking water, from 1976-1997.

 

3.  (U) Scientists point out that deforestation in Ecuador

contributes to glacial retreat; indeed it may be Ecuador's

greatest contribution to global climate change.  Ecuador's

deforestation rate was last measured in 2000 by CLIRSEN, the

national satellite agency overseen by the Ecuadorian

military's Geographic Institute, at 1.5% per year, probably

the second-highest rate in Latin America after Paraguay.  The

head of Quito's forestry engineers' union tells us that the

deforestation rate in the northwest province of Esmeraldas is

as high as 4.5%, due to the clearing of native forests for

palm oil plantations.  The Ministry of Environment has a very

limited budget for enforcement, and nearly all logging in

Ecuador takes place illegally.

Current studies of Cotopaxi indicate a retreat of 50 meters

per year.  Quito's municipal power company, the Empresa

Electrica Quito, estimates that the amount of water flowing

into the hydroelectric plant at Guangopolo from rivers fed by

the Cotopaxi glacier has decreased by 40-50% over the last

thirty years.  The U.S. Department of Energy, the

International Energy Organization, and the World

Meterological Organization's Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change (IPCC) predict that green house gas emissions

will continue to cause declining Andean snow pack (the DOE

estimates by as much as 55% by 2100) and a temperature rise

of 2-3 degrees Celsius in the Amazon Basin by 2050-2100 (the

Brazilian space agency estimates a rise of 4-8 degrees C),

with dire implications for forest loss and potable water

supply.

 

Unusual Weather a National Emergency

------------------------------------

 

4.   (U) The effects of pollution and deforestation on

glacial retreat and climate change for any given year are

difficult to measure, but it is clear that this year, Ecuador

is experiencing very unusual climatic conditions (ref A).

INAMHI says 2008 is the heaviest rainy period Ecuador has

seen in ten years, due to the fact that the La Nina effect

has been accompanied by unusually warm temperatures in parts

of the Pacific between the Galapagos Islands and the

mainland.  Recent flooding on the coast and in the highlands

has caused over $150 million in agricultural and

infrastructure damage, affecting nearly one third of

Ecuador's population.  Peace Corps and NGO contacts say the

damage has been more severe than that caused by El Nino in

1997-98.  On April 1, a massive sink hole measuring 40 meters

in diameter and 100 meters deep opened underneath the edge of

a major highway in downtown Quito.  There were no injuries,

but the government estimates the cost of repairs at $1.5

million.  The municipality declared a road emergency.

 

Scarce Resources and GOE Efforts

--------------------------------

 

5.  (SBU) Scientific agencies uniformly tell us their budgets

are restrictive.  Existing resources are not well coordinated

among agencies, and scientific data are not regularly

published.  Many scientific agencies have only been formed in

the last ten years, as environmental law has been written and

the need for information has grown.  The Ministry of

Environment's National Council on Hydrologic Resources (an

agency that manages contracts for the supply of potable water

to municipalities) tells us it does not share data with

INAMHI (the agency that studies glacial retreat); and the

pattern is similar in almost every scientific field.

 

6.  (SBU) At the political level, the GOE has made its

"Keeping the Oil in the Ground" proposal (a proposal to avoid

drilling for oil in the Ishpingo-Tambocoha-Tiputini or ITT

field in Yasuni National Park*reftels B and C), its showcase

initiative to combat global warming.  Through this

initiative, Ecuador is proposing to forgo 50% of the value of

oil that would be extracted over the next 40 years.  (Note:

this initiative is ambitious but poorly defined and may not

come to fruition; Correa has established a deadline of

October 2008 before opening the field to development.)  The

GOE has signed the Kyoto Protocol, and is a member of the

U.S. Methane to Markets Partnership for clean energy.  The

Ministry of Environment (MAE) also regularly holds

conferences related to climate change; in October 2007 it

worked with the Andean community and the Municipality of

Quito to hold the week-long "ClimaLatino" conference in Quito

and Guayaquil to raise public awareness.

 

7.  (U)  Still, the need for increased training and technical

assistance is great. The Ministry of Environment is

under-funded, and in the absence of substantive policy

initiatives, does what it can to develop connections with

technical agencies worldwide. Over the last ten years, the

U.S. government has helped conserve the biodiversity of over

1.2 million hectares in Ecuador (this year alone, USAID will

provide over $800,000 for biodiversity management). 

 

The USG has also donated $2 million in assistance for the floods.

Probably the greatest U.S. contribution is that made by NOAA,

through the tsunami warning buoys it maintains and data it

makes available to Ecuador.  The EPA, U.S. Geological Survey,

and Department of Energy also all cooperate regularly, though

informally, with Ecuadorian scientific agencies.

 

Comment

-------

 

8.  (SBU)  Members of the GOE and the public continually

express interest in combating  climate change.  Like many

countries, Ecuador is still in the process of defining how to

address the issue.  The Correa administration has made token

gestures towards protecting the environment, particularly

through the ITT initiative, but in general it has focused

real political will on more sensitive social and political

issues.  This year, climate has become an emergency.  While

most GOE and international funding will be directed to relief

efforts instead of prevention, the underlying need for

scientific expertise will remain underdeveloped.  Post will

seek ways to support the scientific community, particularly

by promoting relationships between bilateral scientific

agencies and through the International Visitors' Program, IIP

Speaker programs, and the Embassy Science Fellows Program.

End comment.

Jewell

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