UI alum and COP21 negotiator marks summit “beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era”


A COP21 attendee walks along a corridor connecting sections at the COP21 climate summit in Paris in December. (KC McGinnis / CGRER)
A COP21 attendee walks along a corridor connecting sections at the COP21 climate summit in Paris in December. (KC McGinnis / CGRER)
KC McGinnis | December 22, 2015

A University of Iowa alum and member of the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research (CGRER) called the recent COP21 summit at which he was a delegate, “the beginning of the end of the fossil-fuel era.”

That quote, which appeared in a New York Times summary of the climate talks, came from Marcelo Mena-Carrasco, a civil and environmental engineering graduate with masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa. Mena-Carrasco is now serving in a Chilean cabinet post as its Undersecretary of the Environment.

Mena-Carrasco met with CGRER co-director Jerry Schnoor at the climate summit to hear what Latin American countries thought of the agreement as it was in progress.

“Mostly they’re trying to get it to be a bit more ambitious,” he said in a CGRER interview from COP21.

Many Latin American countries are among those most affected by global climate change, made especially vulnerable by rising temperatures, deforestation and expanding deserts. Last year Chile approved the first carbon tax in South America at a modest $5 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions. The largest solar plant in Latin America is currently under construction in the Chilean desert.

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