Green goblins have made their way to South America. This time it is in the human form of Colombian President Gustavo Petro.
Petro is championing irrational ideas often masquerading as progressive values and enjoys being seen as a risk-taking leader. Politicians like Petro have pursued “solutions” that frequently make matters worse. This time Petro has a plan that will destroy the Colombian economy.
Gustavo Petro has aspirations beyond transforming his own country; he aims to bring about global change. Since assuming office as Colombia’s new leader last August, he has set his sights on dismantling what he refers to as the “economy of death” in his nation. This involves shifting focus away from unsustainable economic sectors such as oil, natural gas, and coal, despite these industries accounting for half of his country’s exports. Instead, he is pushing for more sustainable economic activities.
As expected, Petro and his environmentalist vice president, Francia Marquez, have faced considerable opposition to their proposals, including from within their own political party. Despite implementing a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling as a means of transitioning away from Colombia’s fossil fuel industry, the finance and energy ministries, apprehensive about the impact on the Colombian economy, have not completely ruled out future contracts.
Additionally, the government initially proposed a significant tax on oil exports but later revised it due to significant industry opposition, including from Ecopetrol, the state-owned oil company.
Further, if Petro stops drilling, the question arises how the country will deal with its debt. The Petro administration is confronted with a formidable task of dealing with a colossal debt problem. Approximately one-third of the government’s earnings are utilized to cater to Colombia’s extensive overseas debt.
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This is comparable to the struggles faced by numerous nations in the Global South who are constrained by arduous interest charges, compelling them to continually extract more resources to meet their perpetual obligations to international financial institutions.
Resources are the way out
Historically, the left-wing political movements in Latin America have supported mining and drilling activities as a means of increasing exports, trade, and government revenue. The President of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has pursued the re-nationalization of the oil industry to enhance production.
Similar strategies have been employed by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) in Brazil, and the Peronist administration in Argentina has prioritized the significant expansion of offshore oil drilling. Raw material extraction, which aims to distribute more wealth to the less fortunate and reduce the disparity with the more affluent Northern nations, has been a vital aspect of progressivism in Latin America and other parts of the world.
Petro has been swayed by the climate activist’s agenda of net zero carbon emissions. In order to achieve the goal, set forth in the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C, a reduction of 45% in emissions is necessary by the year 2030, and complete carbon neutrality or net zero emissions must be reached by 2050.
Climate ranting isn’t smart government policy, and it doesn’t persuade anyone. Colombia’s Petro stringent green regulations threaten to completely destroy the Colombian economy.
Petro has been actively pursuing a climate policy that aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy.
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To achieve this goal, last August, Colombia released a national roadmap for achieving net-zero carbon buildings in the country. The roadmap includes goals such as enhancing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting the use of renewable energy in the building sector.
The plan seeks to increase awareness of the importance of building efficiency and improve policy frameworks to support the transition towards net-zero carbon buildings. The implementation of this roadmap is expected to contribute to Colombia’s climate change mitigation efforts and support the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Colombia’s reliance on oil and gas exports also would face challenges in the transition to a low-carbon Colombian economy. Therefore, the risks of climate change cannot be ignored certainly but shouldn’t be so much followed that the nation’s wealth and people become of zero importance, something that Petro seems to be doing.
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