A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis

By Tania Miranda

Environment & Climate Change Program

Foreword by
Richard Kiy

President & CEO
Institute of the Americas

Later this year, world leaders from 197 nations will convene in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-26) with the goal of reaching consensus on the collective actions necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Here, a key focus of COP-26 will be reaching agreement on a pathway towards achieving global net zero emissions by mid-century while limiting global temperature increases to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This consensus will also be necessary to take the necessary steps as well as securing the required funding to help developing countries — including many across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) — to not only protect and restore vital eco-systems but also make their communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Here, developed countries agreed six years ago to provide at least USD$100 billion in climate financing per year by 2020 to bolster the global south’s climate resiliency. Yet, to date, these pledges have fallen short.

At COP-26, delegates will also be working to promote a framework for reporting and more transparent monitoring of their country’s respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as on the rulebook for Article 6 of the Agreement, which allows countries to reduce emissions using international carbon markets.

The challenges facing many developing and emerging market countries — particularly those in LAC — to deliver on their stated NDCs will be daunting amidst the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused the worst economic crisis in modern history. For countries such as Argentina, Mexico and Brazil their respective economic recoveries have been hobbled; putting additional fiscal stress on an already weakened public sector unable to adequately deliver critical social services at a time of concurrent climate change impacts that each nation faces.

In an effort to better assess progress made to date by countries across the Americas in delivering on their climate commitments, the Institute of the Americas (IOA) has undertaken this policy white paper entitled, Nationally Determined Contributions Across the Americas: A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis. Authored by Tania Miranda, IOA’s Director of Policy & Stakeholder Engagement for our Environment & Climate Change Program, the white paper provides a timely snapshot of progress made, while also highlighting the serious funding gaps that remain if LAC countries are going to deliver on their previously agreed upon climate pledges.

Through her analysis and development of country-specific scorecards for 16 countries in the Americas, that represent 90% of the hemisphere’s combined population and 98% of its collective GDP, Ms. Miranda highlights some of the regional challenges ahead, including: the growing reliance by some Latin American and Caribbean countries on fossil fuels and the growing risks of the energy transition; and the impacts of climate induced drought on countries, like Brazil and Mexico, dependent on hydro-electric power amidst rising energy demand. Most importantly, Ms. Miranda highlights the critical need for developed countries and international financial institutions to step up their game to help LAC countries meet their NDCs. Clearly, LAC countries cannot deliver on its commitments alone.

In the end, LAC only represents about 7% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, South America alone accounts for nearly 35% of the world’s total terrestrial carbon stock. So, the region’s life sustaining eco-systems are absolutely critical for the survival of humankind.

As Lester Brown concludes, “the question we face is not what we need to do, because that seems rather clear…the challenge is how to do it in the time available.”


Thank you to the entire staff of the Institute of the Americas for a gigantic team effort, including data analyst intern Alberto Coppola for his analytical support that has been invaluable, and Richard Kiy, the Institute’s President & CEO, for his numerous reviews and guidance.

Likewise, thanks to Keith Nurse, President of the Sir Arthur Community College in St. Lucia and Andre Charles, Research Officer in Advancement at the same institution, for their research and on-the-ground input regarding the advancements and implementation of NDCs in Caribbean Island Nations.

Lastly, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Leonardo Beltrán, IOA’s non-resident fellow and, and Thomas Singh, Director of the GREEN Institute at the University of Guyana, for your detailed and invaluable feedback on this white paper.

Executive Summary

The executive summary of our report highlights the most important trends across the updated international climate pledges of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the challenges and opportunities ahead in this extremely biodiverse region.

Climate change has taken center stage across the globe as the final countdown to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland begins. The highly anticipated COP26 meeting gained greater spotlight upon the release of the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighting the unequivocal evidence of human-induced global warming and its direct impact on increasing extreme weather events’ frequency and intensity. 

The impacts of climate change and the urgency to act have not gone unnoticed in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Argentina and other LAC nations hosted a regional climate summit on September 8, 2021, in an effort to create a unified front for the upcoming COP26. Among the key issues addressed was the one on how to finance the Paris Agreement-related Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) assumed by countries, and particularly the role international financial institutions could and should be taking, as well as areas in which regional cooperation could help advance common goals—such as clean electricity generation and coastal resilience. 

Many countries in the region have ambitious climate commitments for 2030 and 2050 and are making progress in setting ad hoc policy frameworks to achieve them. What is largely missing is the required funding to implement the NDCs. The gap in required funding among LAC nations is  in the order of billions of dollars a year and will prove difficult to meet without outside assistance,  particularly in light of the COVID-19 related economic crisis impacting the region—the worst in a generation. 

With the goal of facilitating dialogue on the need for increased leadership and funding in support of climate commitments across the Americas, the Institute of the Americas’ white paper provides a snapshot of the NDCs, with emphasis on 16 countries: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. Many of these NDCs have been updated.  Collectively, the countries profiled in this white paper represent 90% of the Hemisphere’s total population and 98% of its combined GDP. 

We examine, through country-specific scorecards, different relevant commitment components including adaptation—which is extremely relevant for a region that is at high risk of climate disasters. More than 27% of LAC’s population lives in coastal areas, and 6–8% lives in areas that are at high or very high risk of being affected by coastal hazards and sea-level rise.

The report also assesses progress made with the incorporation of climate pledges into national legislation. Without institutional and legislative efforts, NDCs are just empty promises. In addition, the alignment of COVID-19 recovery packages with countries’ climate pledges is explored, as this represents an opportunity to build back greener, yet it is an opportunity that has largely been ignored by many nations in the Americas aside from a few, such as Canada, Brazil and Colombia. 

Finally, we analyze the percentage of commitments that are dependent on international assistance. Only five of the LAC countries we reviewed have made 100% of their pledges unconditional. For a region engulfed in debt, where many of its productive sectors have been endangered by the COVID-19 economic standstill, pinpointing the funding sources for NDC implementation is of the utmost importance.

This conditionality of NDCs also means that the burden of their pledges will rely heavily on the G-7 countries and the private sector. In this regard, the United States and Canada, the two most developed economies in the Americas, have recently made new pledges to help address that finance gap. Yet while this pledged direct foreign assistance (DFA) is a useful start, the amount proves completely inadequate in the context of the total needs in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Beyond addressing the funding gaps, our white paper outlines the need to leverage nature and ecosystems, adapt successful models to attract investment into renewables such as energy auctions, and make use of innovative finance mechanisms to expand access to capital. Doing so will require developing countries to push through institutional reforms to promote transparency and the rule of law in order to de-risk investments.

Countries will also need to make significant efforts to decarbonize their own finances to garner support from international finance institutions and climate funds. The trend away from fossil fuels and how ESG standards are shaping capital flows also bears noting.

Through our analysis, we note the extent of potential limitations. Energy, agriculture, and land-use (including deforestation) are the three largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in LAC – representing 88% of emissions – and any effort to decarbonize will have to concentrate on these areas. But, as we highlight in this paper, there are notable opportunities to further climate action, many of which can be considered so-called low-hanging fruit. Specifically, efforts targeting renewable energy systems, sustainable fuels and supply chains; agricultural practices; and nature – and ecosystem – based solutions can have important impacts.

The region alone holds over a quarter of the world’s forest cover and almost half of the remaining tropical forests, yet the fast overall ecosystem degradation calls for action now. The rate of tree loss in the entire Amazonian basin since the 2000 is of about 8 percent. Likewise, LAC holds over 25% of the global mangrove cover, yet 20% of that has been lost between 2001 and 2018. Without adequate financial incentives, this vital carbon sinks could be lost forever. 

Overall, our work aims to further shape and inform the climate debate. The regional scorecard is a great tool to help focus on where to allocate finite resources and the most critical areas of near-term attention needed from policymakers and government officials.

This will be particularly useful in the final countdown to Glasgow and perhaps also to spur an LAC unified message, specifically with regards to increased funding for the region. 

Executive Summary

The executive summary of our report highlights the most important trends across the updated international climate pledges of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the challenges and opportunities ahead in this extremely biodiverse region.

main report

Nationally Determined Contributions Across the Americas:
A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis

In an effort to better assess progress achieved by countries across the Americas towards delivering on their international climate pledges, and understand the main challenges ahead, in anticipation of the forthcoming United Nation’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26), the IOA has issued the report Nationally Determined Contributions Across the Americas: A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis.

appendix a


Through country-level scorecards of 16 nations across the Americas, that collectively represent over 90% of the population and 98% of the region’s GDP, our report made an assessment of seven distinct components related to each country’s Paris-related commitments – six years after the Agreement was signed.

Select your country:













Costa Rica


Dom. Republic














Trinidad & Tobago


United States




appendix B

Hemispheric Climate Hot Spots Case Studies

Greenland, Alaska and Canada: Loss of Permafrost and Sea-Level Rise

Read more

Mexico (Valle Central): Severe Droughts & Climate Migration

Read more

Brazil’s Amazonian Rainforest: Shift from a Carbon Sink to a Net Carbon Emitter

Read more
Island Nations of the Caribbean: Threatening Sea-Level Rise
(By Andre Charles)
Read more

NDC Scorecards Methodology Notes and Country-Specific Sources

Methodology & Notes

  • Ambition of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets is compared with own country’s previously submitted NDCs. Adaptation targets are compared with own country’s previously submitted NDCs.
  • For those countries that have not submitted an updated NDC at the time of writing, the original version of the NDC was used for the assessment of the rest of the scorecard’s categories. However, for the first two questions regarding ambition of emissions reduction and adaptation targets, the answers were deemed as undetermined.
  • For those countries in which information and data was not sufficiently available as to make an informed assessment, the answered was deemed as undetermined.
  • The percentage of total GHG emission reduction targets that depends on international finance refers to that proportion, out of the total GHG emission reduction target (unconditional + conditional), that is dependent upon external sources of assistance.
    • Canada and the U.S., as developed nations, are 100% unconditional.
    • Ecuador’s targets are set for 2025 as opposed to 2030, like the rest of the countries.
    • Brazil did not state a conditional GHG emission reduction target per se, however, it does call for receiving US$10 billion a year from 2021 on to address climate change-related challenges, including the conservation of native vegetation, in particular the rainforest. In that sense, its GHG emission reduction target is unconditional. Its 2050 net-zero commitment is also contingent upon external funding.
    • Guyana’s unconditional targets are not defined in terms of GHG emissions. Conditional commitments, on the other hand, include: an effort to develop a 100% renewable energy power supply by 2025, and the reduction of 48.7 MtCO2e annually, from deforestation and forest degradation. In that sense, its GHG emission reduction target was deemed 100% conditional.
    • Color coding:
      • Green: 100% unconditional.
      • Orange: 1-50% conditional.
      • Red: 51-100% conditional.
  • Net-Zero Commitment category color coding:
    • Green for countries that have stated a target year.
    • Red: no timeline established.
  • The COVID-19 recovery measures alignment with NDC pledges of LAC countries was based on information from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Covid-19 Recovery Tracker for Latin America and the Caribbean, and from the Global Recovery Observatory of Oxford University for Canada and the United States (up to the time of writing).
    • Color coding:
      • Green: any country that has spent anything above 50% of its total COVID-19 recovery spending on green measures.
      • Orange: any country that has dedicated anything between 1% and 49% of its total COVID-19 recovery spending on green measures.
      • Red: any country that has dedicated less than 1% of its total COVID-19 recovery spending on green measures.
United States


NDC ambition:

Track to meet pledges:
National legislation:

Covid-19 recovery measures:



Interactive Maps

To visualize some key, relevant statistics of the Americas, as part of our analysis, the reader can access interactive grids and maps of the hemisphere to look at GHG emissions, forest cover, and GDP in the following links

America’s Interactive Map:
GHG Emissions, Forest Cover and GDP

Outreach Materials


Institute of Americas report highlights climate challenges faced across the Americas




Nationally Determined Contributions Across the Americas: A Comparative Hemispheric Analysis