Peru at the UNFCCC: explaining the country’s foreign climate policy

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Peru was one of the first developing countries to commit to a voluntary emissions reduction target and is seen as a bridge builder within the UNFCCC. It played an important role in advancing the multilateral climate process between 2013 and 2015. Peru is a member of the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), a progressive coalition of countries that promotes ambitious positions within the climate regime. Although the country’s level of activism in international negotiations has markedly declined since 2016, there have been no significant changes in its foreign position. What factors explain Peru’s conciliatory and relatively progressive stance at the UNFCCC? To answer this question, I use the ‘climate commitment approach’ as analytical framework and trace the processes that link possible causes with outcomes, comparing two different periods in the trajectory of Peru’s participation in the climate regime. The study is based on semi-structured interviews, governmental publications and data, reports and studies by independent organizations, news reports, and scientific literature. It concludes that Peru’s position in the UNFCCC negotiations has been mainly determined by the dominant presence of Peru’s Ministry of Environment (MINAM) in foreign climate policy decision-making as well as of individual agents who act as climate leaders. It also points to several other factors that determine its position: the low level of interest in, or understanding of, the climate issue by domestic pressure groups; the country’s international profile; the governmental perception of economic, political, and diplomatic benefits associated with a more ambitious climate position; and the wish to access international climate financing. Key policy insights Foreign pressure and support were major pillars of the development of Peru’s foreign climate policy. Peru’s diplomatic position was profoundly shaped by the vision and interests of MINAM, which filled a political vacuum and exercised leadership in international climate negotiations. Given the ministry’s expertise, and international support for its activities, other ministries could hardly compete with MINAM for influence. Recently, the diminished authority of MINAM, the inclusion of climate change into Peru’s national policy agenda combined with domestic political turmoil, have translated into a marked decline in the country’s level of foreign activism. Peru has continued to align with AILAC due to the link between the country’s foreign trade and climate policy agendas, and to the benefits associated with a more ambitious foreign climate position, including possibilities for attracting international climate finance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-225
Number of pages14
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • climate change
  • Foreign climate policy
  • Peru


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