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Why climate change threatens Peru's poverty reduction mission


Photograph: David Mercado/Reuters

The Peruvian Amazon became a net emitter of carbon dioxide rather than oxygen for the first time in 2012, according to the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) latest human development country report.

The reversal of the rainforest's usual role as a carbon sink is a direct result of the droughts in the western Amazon in 2005 and 2010 – and a stark reminder, say scientists, that this mega-biodiverse country is highly vulnerable to climate change.

Peru, which has four of the five geographical areas most vulnerable to climate change – ranging from fragile mountain ecosystems to low-lying coastal areas – will host the 20th UN climate change conference in 2014.

The 2013 UNDP report warned that Peru's climate change vulnerability could undo the advances it has made in channelling economic growth into sustained poverty reduction. Peru's poverty rates have been more than halved over the past decade, dropping from 48.5% of the population in 2004 to 25.8% in 2012, according to the World Bank.

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