Climate Change in Uruguay

Uruguay is a low-emitting country. In 2018 it is estimated that Uruguay produced the equivalent of 35.2 Megatonnes of CO2 in emissions[i] (0.05% from the global emissions[ii]). It is the 15th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America and the Caribbean (0.89%)[iii].


  • The largest emitting sector is Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). This sector is responsible for approximately three-quarters of the national greenhouse gas emissions in Uruguay (75%), and the livestock sector accounts for 62% of the total emissions[iv].
  • The Energy sector is the second largest. Within this sector, almost all emissions (86.7%) come from transportation. The energy industries represent a small percentage (5.7% of the Energy sector), due to the increase of renewable energy in the last decades[v].
  • The third largest sector is Waste. The predominant gas in the sector is methane, mainly from solid waste disposal.


Although Uruguay is not as vulnerable to climate change as other countries in the world, it is still very sensitive to extreme events, such as droughts, floods, heat and cold waves, strong winds, frosts, tornadoes and severe storms. The most frequent and impactful events are floods, generally caused by the overflowing of rivers, lakes and reservoirs after extreme rainfall. The phenomena ‘El Niño’ and ‘La Niña’ (periodic changes in Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures that have impacts on weather all over the globe) have a great impact on Uruguay’s weather. ‘El Niño’, mainly in spring and autumn, increases the probability of heavy rains and therefore floods. In years of ‘La Niña’ predominance, the country suffers from prolonged droughts. The coast is particularly vulnerable to extreme events and sea level rise. Coastal erosion is already happening and it is estimated that with the advance of global warming it will be even worse, endangering the population living in these areas[vi].


In the year 1994, Uruguay ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)[vii], in 2000 the Kyoto Protocol[viii] and in 2016 the Paris Agreement[ix]. Later on in 2017, the National Climate Change Policy (PNCC for its acronym in Spanish) was created. Its general objective is to promote climate change adaptation and mitigation, with goals to achieve by 2050. Also, the first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of Uruguay to the Paris Agreement was formulated, contributing to the sustainable development of the country, with a global, intra- and intergenerational fairness and human rights perspective[x].


We can see that in the last few years, Uruguay has committed to adapt and mitigate through different actions, for example, implementing new renewable energy systems such as wind and solar and has continued generating hydroelectric power. In addition, in the last two years electric public transport has been implemented, especially in Montevideo.


Through Climate Justice for All, we want Uruguayans to listen to the stories from their fellow citizens and from people from other parts of the world, creating a space to learn through personal experiences. We would like to call on our political representatives, so that they meet mitigation and adaptation targets, and implement more environmental and climate education in schools, education and cultural centres. And last but not least, we want to encourage people to commit, take action and learn from each other.