- Guatemala is listed among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change and the fourth most vulnerable to natural disasters.
- The spread of Coffee rust, exacerbated by climate change, affected 70% of Guatemala’s coffee crops in 2014 and resulted in the loss of 100,000 jobs tied directly to coffee production.
- Tropical storm Agatha, the wettest rainy season in the past 60 years, and the eruption of the Pacaya volcano displaced 208,000 Guatemalans in 2010 alone.
Guatemala has the highest rate of species endemism in Central America, and almost a third of its territory is protected. Deforestation and climatic changes, however, both directly and indirectly affect the country’s rich biodiversity. And despite having very low greenhouse gas emissions, 0.08% of the world total, it is highly vulnerable to climate change.
Climate Change Impact
- More frequent episodes of flooding as well as periods of drought will cause the loss of ecosystems, reduce the quality and availability of fresh water, and affect agricultural production, which largely relies on rain-fed systems for water.
- Climate change will exacerbate Guatemala’s already-high exposure to natural disasters—including hurricanes and landslides—with factors such as poor housing, high malnutrition, and unemployment contributing to vulnerability. Climate change will only increase the frequency and strength of these extreme weather events and natural disasters.
- Food security is at great risk, as climate change aggravates historical and structural issues.
- Coastal areas will also be greatly affected by both sea-level rise, which will inundate and erode coastlines
- Rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification will deteriorate coral reefs and fisheries, resources that many in the coastal region of Central America rely on for tourism revenue and sustenance. The Mesoamerican Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere located just off the coast of Guatemala, is an important location for both economic and natural resources in the region and is at risk because of climate change.
- Guatemala is a REDD+ country and plans to restore over 1.2 million hectares of forest in valuable areas and more than 5 million hectares of forest in total as part of the Bonn challenge.
- The country hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 17 million tons between 2016 and 2020.
- Guatemala has implemented a new energy policy for 2013-2027, which includes reduction in the use of firewood and diversifying the energy mix with an 80% renewable energy share target.
- Guatemala has recently increased the government’s capacity and ability to respond to natural disasters, specifically climate-related disasters such as Hurricane Stan in 2005.
- Guatemala is home to one of Central America’s largest solar PV plants, developed in 2014.
WWF in Guatemala
WWF’s Guatemala/Mesoamerican Reef program works in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. Since 1986, WWF has worked on various issues in this part of Central America, such as farming, forestry, fisheries, and more, in order to protect the reef.