Environmental protection in the Americas

A breakdown of domestic performance and adherence to international treaties in the hemisphere.


International cooperation to address climate change is arguably the most pressing issue facing the world today. As ocean levels and global temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common, countries around the world are increasingly working together to combat climate change and prepare for the changed realities many communities around the world are already beginning to face. And because so many of the region’s countries and their cities are next to large bodies of water, rely on glacial melt, and depend on hydropower for electricity generation, the hemisphere is particularly vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather patterns from climate change.

Of course, there are some notable international shirkers when it comes to cooperation on climate change, the United States chief among them after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. After Nicaragua signed on to the agreement in September 2017, the United States became the only country in the hemisphere (and, with Syria, one of only two countries in the world) that is not a part of the agreement.

The hemisphere’s near-consensus on the importance of a united front against climate change, however, doesn’t mean that the countries of the Americas perform equally well, both when it comes to other international treaties and regarding domestic performance. It should be obvious, but the act of signing the Paris Agreement doesn’t immediately turn a country into a guardian of the environment, especially on the domestic front. International consensus is important, but so are individual domestic performances.

To read the full chapter on environmental performance in the Americas, along with the rest of our fourth report for the NED, click here

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