GREEN EXPECTATIONS

Peru 2015 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of Environment, on hosting the COP 20 conference, introducing regulatory framework to cut emissions, and how the government is working to improve environmental oversight.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal
BIOGRAPHY
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is an environmental lawyer and has served as Minister of the Environment for Peru since 2011. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in 1986 and later received a Master's degree in business law from Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in 2003. He was born in Lima in 1962.

What significance did the 2014 COP 20 have for Peru?

This Ministry is fully aware that issues related to the climate and a green economy are a mainstay of the agenda for global development. We knew at that time that it would be good to be part of the global debate by hosting the COP 20 climate change conference in Lima, despite the cost involved. We invested public resources to organize it at a cost of around $80 billion, but it was crucial for our legacy not only domestically, but also internationally. Moreover, the event was a vehicle with which to lay the foundation for a more responsible climate policy with growth focused on this global topic. The COP 20 showed different governments haveconfidence in Peru and also showcased the ability of Peruvians to deal with a very complex debate. We are 10 months ahead of the Paris COP 21, for which we are still discussing one of the core topics of this climate agenda. We have developed two or three key things in this debate; first was the participation of non-state actors. For the first time here in Peru, there was a high-level session on climate action in which the government and non-state actors worked together. Secondly, what Peru did in terms of working with indigenous people was a very important step towards increasing their participation in civil society. In terms of our domestic legacy, we are just finishing with what we call the “Perú Compromiso Climático." It is our domestic agenda for the next two years. That will be part of our commitments at COP 21. It includes not only the different actions that we are seeking to show our climate responsibility, but one of the core activities is our national contribution.

What amendments do you envisage for the regulatory environment in Peru in order to reduce carbon emissions?

For a country like Peru, our main source of carbon emission is deforestation; it is very difficult to deal with the problem because much deforestation is not related to formal economic activity. Deforestation is more a result of the poverty and the immigration of the people from the Andes to the Amazon. That is why we need to work with the private sector, but indirectly because it is not responsible for deforestation. We need to create better conditions, opportunities, and wealth for people living in the Andes to avoid that kind of harmful immigration. We have already advanced a lot because we are part of the forestry investment program, working with the IDB and the World Bank, as a pilot project with different countries. Secondly, we are working to establish our reference level, as the only way to maintain the forest as an asset is by recognizing what opportunities it provides. Thirdly, we are going to deal with some of the major threats, like illegal mining.

What is the government doing to improve environmental oversight of mining and petroleum projects?

We have created new agencies to process permits and to create more confidence among the people about gas licensing or environmental studies. That is why we created the public agency Servicio Nacional de Certificacion Ambiental para las Inversiones Sostenibles (SENACE). I hope that by the end of this year, the faculties to approve the environmental impact studies in Peru will be completed.

How can environmental policy ease social conflict in areas with these projects?

We are working through different dialogues in trying to deal with different conflicts and also clarify what the environmental situation is in different parts of our territory. We want to promote sustainable investment in a sustainable manner, which will do much to foster confidence in the government.