To go to work, it's always at your doorstep. foot as Sofia Llocclla Pellaca, 31, descends the hill in the suburbs of Lima where she lives in a tin house with no heating. She rarely eats meat and cooks with gas or wood fires.
This single mother of two has never heard of a carbon footprint and her low impact on the environment is only a reflection of the poverty in which she lives. Like her, nearly a third of Peru's 30 million people are poor.
Eradicating poverty while tackling climate change is one of the key challenges facing developing countries, which, along with all world leaders, will attend COP28 in the United Arab Emirates next month.
The carbon footprint in Latin America © AFP – Gustavo IZUS, Gabriela VAZ
“I go walking, I come back walking,” explains this woman of Native American Quechua ethnicity, with long hair pulled back in a bun, saying she barely uses public transport and has never taken a plane.
She is a housekeeper and earns half the Peruvian minimum wage of $265 per month. Like most of Lima's 2.7 million poor people, she lives in the shanty towns in the hills surrounding the capital, devoid of public lighting and regularly plunged into fog.
Peru has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the Americas, emitting an average of 1.7 tonnes of carbon per capita, compared to 4.2 tonnes in Argentina. In the United States, it is 15 tonnes, more than three times the world average.
According to experts, to limit the increase in temperature on the surface of the globe, it would be necessary to reduce to less of two tonnes the carbon footprint of each individual over the coming decades.
– “Little by little” –
In her house, Sofia Llocclla Pellaca does not have a bathroom. However, it has a television and a refrigerator, which is regularly half empty. She and her mother, who lives a few houses up, are supplied with electricity thanks to a pirate connection.
The neighborhood of Villa Maria del Triunfo, in the outskirts of Lima, deprived of running water, public lighting and sanitation, October 7, 2023 district, in the southern outskirts of Lima, taken on October 7, 2023. Some 27.5 percent of Peru's population of 30 million lives in poverty. It has one of the lowest carbon footprints on the continent, emitting an average of 1.7 tons of carbon per person, compared to 4.2 tons in Argentina. Giving the poor a better life and spurring economic growth while curbing planet-harming emissions is one of the major challenges facing world leaders, who will meet for COP28 talks in UAE next month. © AFP – Ernesto BENAVIDES
There are no public lighting or sewage system, and drinking water arrives every 15 days by tanker truck.
The Peruvian economy is mainly based on fishing and mining, while 73% of the active population works in the informal sector, undeclared odd jobs.
Around 63% of the Andean country's carbon emissions result from deforestation in the Amazon jungle and the urbanization of forest or agricultural land, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, former Minister of the Environment, told AFP.
Most of Peru's energy is of hydroelectric origin, the country not being dependent on oil and coal, the main sources of CO2, he emphasizes.
However, it is “confusing and misleading” to think that the country, because it is developing, can evade its responsibilities in the face of the climate crisis, warns the former minister.
According to him, a large part of Latin America has not yet managed to develop “clear strategies” to migrate to renewable energies because it is “trapped by oil, coal and gas”.
Cristina Pellaca Llocclla, Sofia's mother, feeds their poultry, at Villa Maria del Triunfo, near Lima, October 7, 2023 © AFP – Ernesto BENAVIDES
Rich or poor, “the world will gradually abandon the fossil fuels. It's inevitable,” judges Mr. Pulgar-Vidal.
In the impoverished outskirts of Lima, the challenge will be, according to him, to guarantee basic services, improve waste management, adopt a method of construction in harmony with the “surrounding ecosystem” and electrify transport.
What concerns Sofia Llocclla Pellaca the most is precisely the “mobility” of Flor Maria, her 14-year-old daughter years. She dreams of a motorbike on which she could take her to school.
“It would be good” to buy a solar panel to have electricity more regularly “that comes and goes “, she also said. But a small panel costs $115, about his monthly income. She hopes to be able to buy one in the future “but little by little”.
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