Paraguay’s climate has changed significantly already. Temperatures, particularly maximum temperatures, increased from 1960 to 2010 in both winter and summer months, with greater increases seen in the summer. The temperature increase can be observed on different time scales, not only in the values of average annual temperatures. The last five years, 2015–2019, the last decade (2010–2019), and the last 30-year period (1990–2019) were the hottest relative to their predecessors since 1960. The number of heat waves tripled in the last 40 years (1980–2019) and severe droughts have been more frequent in this century than in the past. 2019 was the hottest year in the history of the country, with an average annual temperature of 24.3 °C (1.5 °C above the average for the 1961–1990 period). The spring of 2019 was the hottest (26°C) in fifty years. Extreme events including droughts, floods, extreme heat waves, forest fires, and severe storms also occurred in 2019 with strong impacts on the economy.
Average annual precipitation has increased 200 mm in the last 70 years, at a rate of approximately 3 mm/year. An increase in total annual rainfall has been reported for the summer months (November to December), corresponding with El Niño Southern Oscillation events, which are also associated with floods. All locations also show an increase in the number of days receiving heavy rainfall.
Floods from the Paraguay River in Asunción were more frequent in the last 40 years (1980–2019) since 1904. Floods used to occur every 10 or 12 years in some cities, but have become more frequent in recent years. Heavy rains and ensuing floods have especially affected the Eastern Region and the Chaco, between October and May. Floods used to affect riverside cities such as Concepción, Asunción, Alberdi, Pilar, and Encarnación. However, floods have also occurred in various areas of the Central Chaco in recent years.
Through the century, Paraguay’s climate is projected to change even further. Temperatures are projected to continue rising across the country, with mean monthly temperatures projected to rise by 2°C by 2050 and by 4°C by the end of the century. The highest temperature increase is projected for the northeast part of the country, along the Paraguay river watershed. Average monthly precipitation in the winter months (June–August) is projected to increase significantly, particularly in the North, East and Southeast, precipitation during the summer months is projected to either remain constant or slightly decrease in the north-eastern regions.
The National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change has identified water resources; forests; agriculture and livestock ranching; energy; infrastructure; health and sanitation; and risks and natural disasters as the sectors most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
A considerable increase in precipitation during the months of November and December triggered by El Niño events has been recorded. Intense precipitation and storms cause damages to infrastructure and welfare mainly due to runoff generated in cities. The increase in precipitation will likely increase the river levels of the country's main rivers (e.g., the Paraguay and Paraná rivers), causing floods that might cause damage and lead to resettlement. Several floods associated with El Niño events have affected coastal cities in 1982–1993, 1997–1998, and 2015.
La Niña events bring precipitation scarcity and drought. The areas most affected are the Central Chaco and the area bordering the Pilcomayo River in the Irala Fernández and Mariscal Estigarribia districts. Overall, the Occidental Region is most affected by droughts.
Heat waves are associated with high levels of humidity and are very common in Paraguay, with adverse effects on the population's health, and the productivity of crops and cattle.
Droughts, frosts, and high temperatures impact the cattle raising sector. Climate variability also adversely affects pasture management as some 85% of the yearly rain falls in the rainy season and the rest during the winter (cold and dry). Temperature increases and more frequent heat waves caused a decrease of 0.1361 units/ha in five states (Concepción, Caaguazú, Caazapá, Itapúa y Canindeyú) during the 2005 – 2014 period. A sectoral vulnerability assessment from the point of view of food security showed that the country's vulnerability is medium to high. This vulnerability is closely linked to the unequal ownership of land and access to resources.
Climatic changes could increase the frequency of epidemics. Changes in temperature and precipitation would facilitate the spread of vector- and water-borne diseases such as zika, chikungunya, dengue. An increase in temperature or in seasonal precipitations may affect the biology of pathogens; variations in precipitation may facilitate the creation of breeding grounds for vectors such as mosquitoes. The latter is even more likely in urban areas where large concentrations of households and people exist, often with no access to basic services or located in vulnerable areas such as flood-prone zones.
Vulnerability of water resources is more acute in the Western Region, where there is high water scarcity. The most vulnerable areas include the areas of groundwater recharge and aquifers outcrop (Guaraní Aquifer), basins which are undergoing intense land uses (for instance, the central part of the Eastern Region), wetlands and basins with shallow water tables (south of the country) and the Pilcomayo basin in the Northwest of the country.
According to Paraguay’s latest GHG emissions inventory (included in its 3rd Biennial Update Report), the country’s net emissions (emissions minus absorptions) amounted to 49.85 Mt of CO2e in 2017. Agriculture was the main emitter, contributing 50.20% of the country’s net emissions, followed by LULUCF with 29.11%, energy (16.28%), waste (2.59%), and industrial processes (1.82%).
Key policies and governance approach
The Government of Paraguay ratified its adhesion to the UNFCCC in 1993 and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 1999. In compliance to its obligations to the convention, Paraguay has submitted three national communications, the latest one in 2017. The Third National Communication included national GHG emissions inventories for the years 1994, 2005, and 2012. Paraguay has submitted three Biennial Update Reports (2015, 2018, and 2021). The recent third BUR includes improved GHG emissions inventories as for 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2016, and 2017, and describes progress made by the country on climate change adaptation and mitigation and in building up the relevant regulatory and institutional framework.
Paraguay ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and, honouring the agreement, submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in 2015. An updated NDC was submitted in 2021, in which Paraguay pledged to unconditionally reduce the country’s net GHG emissions by 10% by 2030 (relative to the 2030 business-as-usual reference scenario) and, conditionally, reduce them by an additional 10%.
The country has also been building up a comprehensive policy and institutional framework to comply with the objectives of the UNFCCC, increase its resilience to climate change, and attain its own national development goals, as stated in the National Development Plan (2014–2030).
The National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation (ENACC) was approved in 2015, the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (PNACC) in 2016, and the National Mitigation Strategy – Phase 1 in 2014.
Given the small historical contribution of the Paraguay to global GHG emissions, as opposed to its high vulnerability to climate change, exacerbated by its status as a landlocked country, adaptation rather than mitigation is the national priority.
The National Development Plan (2014–2030) addresses adaptation across the following sectors: water resources, forests, agriculture and livestock production, territorial planning, energy, infrastructure, health, disaster risk management and early warning systems as a national priority. Climate change mitigation objectives include efficient multimodal transport, effective control of deforestation, increase in income from the sale of carbon, increase protected forest coverage, increased use of renewable energies, reduce fossil fuel consumption, etc.
SUCCESSES AND REMAINING CHALLENGES
As described in its recent 3rd Biennial Update Report, Paraguay has made significant progress in constructing the institutional framework and developing technical capacities for addressing climate change issues. However, much remains to be done, as of 2021. For instance, most of the priority mitigation actions envisioned in the NDC are still to be implemented (due to start in 2023 or 2024); data necessary to evaluate the results of those that are under implementation are not available; the institutional arrangements necessary to achieve the NDC’s adaptation objectives are not yet in place; the financial, technological, and capacity building costs of implementing adaptation actions envisioned in the NDC and the National Adaptation Plan have not been estimated yet; technical capacities for monitoring, inventorying, and reporting are still to be developed; data necessary for estimating emissions from some categories are not available; an MRV system for mitigation actions in the LULUCF sector is not yet in place; among others.
Paraguay faces great institutional challenges when implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation actions that are sufficient and appropriate to its national circumstances. Financial, capacity building, and technological support from the international community is critical to meet these challenges.
Initiatives and Development Plans
Green Climate Fund Projects include…
Sustainable Forestry Fund (2020 -2034) will provide effective climate change mitigation outcomes through investing in sustainable plantation forestry projects in emerging forestry markets of Latin America and Sub Saharan Africa, while also bringing adaptation co-benefits. This investment approach provides developing countries and their rural communities with a solution to increase carbon sinks by producing wood in a sustainable manner and conserving natural forests, whilst contributing to reduction of illegal logging. Besides direct mitigation achieved in forest plantations, the protection of natural forests in project areas, as well as the provision of alternative wood resources, will support efforts to combat deforestation and degradation of natural forests. Part of the carbon contained in harvested trees will be stored in wood products.
REDD+ Results-based payments in Paraguay for the period 2015-2017. Paraguay has reduced a total of 23 million tCO2eq in emissions from reducing deforestation, forest degradation, enhancement of forest stocks and conservation. Paraguay will use the payment to invest in implementing its National Strategy for Forests and Sustainable Growth, which is aligned with its NDC.
Promoting private sector investments in energy efficiency in the industrial sector (2018-2024) will reduce the reliance on fuelwood and fossil fuels by Paraguayan SMEs, increasing their energy efficiency and shifting energy use to renewable hydropower. Tools will be developed to generate an enabling environment for energy efficiency investments by SMEs, including standardized performance contracts, insurance contracts, and monitoring and verification systems. Concessional credit lines will be provided to local financial institutions and SMEs, whilst support will facilitate positive institutional, policy and regulatory environments for energy efficiency investments.
Poverty, Reforestation, Energy, and Climate Change Project (PROEZA) (2018-2025) is promoting forest plantations and reforestation in Eastern Paraguay, sequestering carbon, and supporting local households to diversity agricultural production to enhance resilience to climate change impacts.
GEF Projects include…
Establish an integral MRV/M&E system to enhance climate transparency in Paraguay to strengthen the transparency systems of Paraguayan institutions to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement’s transparency framework.
Cities-IAP: Asuncion Green City of the Americas – Pathways to Sustainability to improve quality of life in the Asuncion Metropolitan Area and deliver multiple benefits through the integration of transport and solid waste management and green infrastructure into a framework for a sustainable and resilient city.
Innovative Use of a Voluntary Payment for Environmental Services Scheme to Avoid and Reduce GHG Emissions and Enhance Carbon Stocks in the Highly Threatened Dry Chaco Forest Complex in Western Paraguay. The objective of this project is to avoid and reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and enhance carbon stocks in the Dry Chaco Forest Complex of Western Paraguay through the establishment of a Payment for Ecosystem Services incentive scheme.
Goals and Ambitions
Strategy 2.4 Valuing environmental capital of Paraguay’s National Development Plan (2014–2030) aims to increase by 60% the use of renewable energy and reduce by 20% the use of fossil fuels by 2030.
Strategy 3.4 Sustainability of the global habitat aims to increase national revenue through the sale of carbon credits, fulfil the country’s commitments to the UNFCCC, plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation across the country’s sectors, etc.
As detailed in the National Adaptation Plan, specific policy recommendations may include:
- Health: Promote research related to the link between illnesses and climate variation. Improve the health information system (epidemiological surveillance) and technology for prevention, control and treatment.
- Agriculture: Strengthening research, promoting resilient (sustainable) practices, develop appropriate financial models.
- Water resources: Strengthening research, strengthening the National Emergency System and improve compliance with regulations, develop and construct water and sanitation infrastructure, establish a coordinated Monitoring Network for agri-hydro-meteorological aspects.
- Ecosystems: Strengthen institutional capacity to manage ecosystems, formulate risk management and adaptation plans, strengthen the National System of Protected Areas, promote activities linked to reforestation and the implementation of the Law of Environmental Services.
Most of the opportunities for mitigation are related to the land use change sector as this is a major contributor to the country’s emissions. Nevertheless, there are also opportunities in clean mobility, especially electric mobility given Paraguay’s energy mix. The waste sector also offers significant opportunities for mitigation and co-benefits for public health, water pollution, etc.