NicaNotes: Climate Justice = Holistic Transformation, Not Tinkering around the Edges

By Helen Yuill

Helen Yuill lives in London and works for the UK-based Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign.

[This article was originally published on 29 February 2024 on the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign web page.)

Nicaraguan Delegation Head Valdrack Jaentschke speaks at COP28 in Dubai. Photo: Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

‘The climate crisis has many dimensions: social, political, economic, environmental, moral, ethical, and ideological. The way out of the crisis must address the root cause: the endless, limitless, mindless accumulation and concentration of capital on a planet with finite resources,’ Valdrak Jaentschke, head of the Nicaragua delegation, said in his speech at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai. In turn, climate justice must be multi-dimensional recognising that climate justice is an integral part of social, political, environmental, and ethical justice.

In a blaze of triumphant celebrations, the Paris Agreement (COP21) was adopted on 12 December 2015. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. The overarching goal was to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

However, the Nicaraguan delegation led by the late Dr Paul Oquist, refused to sign it, let alone celebrate, given the gaping hole between the immensity of the crisis and the lack of ambition of developed countries. According to the calculations of Dr Oquist, actual commitments would at best ‘take the world to more like three degrees over pre-industrial levels.’

Dr Oquist went on to criticise the lack of transparency and narrowness of scope of a process that failed to acknowledge the facts. The Agreement was of such limited ambition, he said, that it merely tinkered around the edges rescuing the governments of the countries that have caused global warming, ‘passing the cost to those least responsible who will die in the largest numbers unable to make good their losses, much less adapt to a change in climate increasing in intensity as the century wears on.’

In short, rather than solve problems, the Agreement postponed them, at best ‘passing a three degree world onto our grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren.’

Fast forward eight years, the crisis has intensified almost to the point of no return across the globe. The demands of UN general secretary Antonio Guterres and millions of others, particularly in the Global South, echoed those of Dr Oquist. ‘End the use of fossil fuels and stop kicking the can down the road,’ urged Guterres at COP28 in Dubai December 2023.

In line with Dr Oquist’s predictions, the International Panel on Climate Change has already stated that even 1.5 degrees above pre-industrialised levels would be unsustainable. ‘Even at this level Small Island States of the Pacific and Caribbean and the lowland areas of Central America would disappear. It’s not a question of if this would happen, it will happen and whole nations will disappear,‘ according to Jaentschke.

Antonio Guterres went on to state, ‘Every year of insufficient action to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius drives us closer to the brink, increasing systemic risks and reducing our resilience against climate catastrophe.’

COP28 ‘typifying the real face of an unequal world’

A small Nicaraguan delegation led by Minister Valdrack Jaentschke were among the nearly 100,000 people who attended COP28 or joined online. It is supposed to be Conference of Parties, meaning countries, and 197 countries registered to attend. But corporate fossil fuel and agribusiness lobbyists were among those embedded in national delegations of countries of the North. Why? To use their clout to ensure that nothing emerged that had any significant impact on their interests.

In a webinar co-ordinated by the Nicaragua Solidarity Coalition, Jaentschke outlined the positions taken by Nicaragua at COP28 arguing that the ‘predatory capitalist model of production and consumption is the main reason we are on the brink of catastrophe. The capitalist assumption of limitless growth is at profound odds with the fact that we live on a planet with finite resources.’

Climate Justice = common but differentiated responsibility for cutting carbon emissions

COP28, after more than a decade of lobbying by countries of the Global South, established the principle that all countries are responsible for emissions but those with the highest level of emissions currently and historically have the greatest responsibilities.

COP28 also signalled ‘a transition away from fossil fuels, the beginning of the end for the fossil fuels era’. This was a critical step forward but as the Nicaraguan delegation and other countries of the Global South highlighted, there must be some level of flexibility not for the major polluters but ‘for developing countries that face capacity questions in terms of the speed at which they are able to transition away from fossil fuels‘.

‘Developed countries are constantly looking for ways of avoiding responsibility; some examples of this are carbon trading and carbon markets to achieve carbon neutrality; this is a big lie,’ Jaentschke said. He went on to state, ‘What we currently have is the dictatorship of capitalist imposition and bullying, greed and belief in their right to control the world.’

Mitigation and adaptation: the UN Green Climate Fund (GFC)

Developed countries have, in theory, pledged to provide US$100 billion per year to the UN Green Climate Fund (GFC). In turn, developing countries, can present applications for projects to mitigate and/or adapt to the climate crisis. However, the amount actually delivered by the UN Green Climate Fund of US$13.5 billion to date indicates how irresponsibly inadequate this Fund is in providing resources to enable vulnerable countries to confront ‘humanity’s greater challenge’.

As well as the chasm between the level of the crisis and the level of GFC financing, Jaentschke raised concerns about the complexity of the application process making it inaccessible for many countries. According to the GCF website 243 projects have been approved to date to the value of US$13.5 billion of which Nicaragua has received US$91.2 million for three projects.

Climate justice = climate finance for loss and damage

Progress has proceeded at a snail’s pace on the inclusion of the concept of loss and damage, something that vulnerable countries of the Global South have been demanded for decades. Loss and damage refers to climate finance that acknowledges the impact of irreversible economic and other losses caused by global warming. It includes not only disasters linked to extreme weather, but also slow onset events such as sea level rise, loss of life and livelihoods, migration, biodiversity, and cultural heritage.

However, as with the Climate Green Fund, only a small fraction of the estimated $US400 billion needed for loss and damage compensation annually was actually pledged.

Climate justice = reparations

In addition, many countries of the Global South including Nicaragua, argued not just for financing of immediate loss and damage but also for reparations for climate related impacts of colonialist development, a concept that North America and Europe are at great pains to avoid.

How the climate crisis impacts Nicaragua

Jaentschke explained that Nicaragua, with a population of 6.2 million, is responsible for 0.05% of global emissions. Yet it suffers multiple climate related crises such as extremes of temperature, hurricanes, floods, droughts and erratic seasonal shifts. All of these events take a heavy toll particularly in low lying areas.

The country has to invest US$4 billion annually to mitigate/adapt to climate change; this constitutes 8% of GDP. This calculation takes into account road infrastructure, production, environment, health, energy, water, sanitation, telecommunications, and agriculture.

In addition, Nicaragua is situated on a criss-cross of earthquake fault lines and a chain of volcanoes.

All of this in a small country has an enormous impact in undermining development. But it’s not just a question of finance needed to rebuild but also the psycho social impact.

What is Nicaragua doing to cut its own carbon emissions?

Jaentschke highlighted that everything that the Sandinista government has achieved, how much the country has advanced including on climate justice, is within the framework of independence and self-determination and eradicating poverty.

Nicaragua is playing its part in cutting emissions according to its means. An example of this is the transition to renewable energy from 25% to 75% since 2007.This consists of a diverse matrix of solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass.

A message from Nicaragua to campaigners in countries of the North:

♦ The debate and pressure needs to accelerate in countries of the North, focusing on transformation rather than tinkering around the edges.

♦ Climate justice is a moral, ideological and ethical question that must be placed in the wider context of social justice.

♦ Building global networks, coalitions, and alliances, is essential to raising awareness of what is happening, who is responsible, and actions to take.

♦ Civil society organisations in developed countries are key. As the UN Secretary General Guterres has stated, rhetoric and actions must address the causes and must be about transformation – the age of tinkering and kicking the can down the road for future generations is over. In short, we must end the myth that we can continue to live as we always have on a planet with limited resources.


By Nan McCurdy

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Nicaragua to Be First in Electricity Coverage in Central America
Nicaragua will occupy first place as the country with the highest electricity coverage in the Central American region with 99.57% at the end of 2024, surpassing Costa Rica which has 99.50%, Honduras with 85.2%, Guatemala with less than 90%, and El Salvador with 99.42%. An official report shows that as of February 29th of this year, 99.437% of the new goal of 99.57% was reached, providing 1,288,320 homes and 3,714,273 inhabitants with this fundamental benefit of electricity. Nicaragua went from 54% coverage in 2006 to 99.43% in March 2024 and from 616,840 homes with electricity to 1,288,320. The electricity network has been rehabilitated in Managua, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Leon, Boaco, and Rivas, with a total of 81.4 kilometers of networks and an investment of US$ 4.76 million. In addition, networks are being renewed in Chinandega, Leon, Managua, and Matagalpa, for which US$4.07 million was allocated to regularize 7,556 homes.  According to the official report, between January 1 and March 3 of this year, electricity generation was 73.08% from renewable sources and 26.92% from non-renewable sources. [Renewable energy varies widely from month to month.] Solar energy contributed 0.44%; 7.39% hydroelectric; 11.92% geothermal; 16.63% biomass; 20.27% wind; and 16.42% from imports in the Central American regional market, for a total generation of 914.96 GWh. Twenty-four new electric chargers will be installed this year to supply electric vehicles and motorcycles, eight at the León Substation; eight at the Granada Substation and eight at the Los Brasiles Substation in Managua. [There are already 60 charging stations in the country.] (La Primerisima, 13 March 2024)

Investment in Roads Throughout the Country
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has rehabilitated 1,218 kilometers of roads, in 13 departments, two Autonomous Regions and 62 municipalities of the country, as part of the Plan Verano [Summer Plan – summer being December to May – the dry season] 2024. In this way, conditions are improved for the population and for more than three million tourists who visit the different tourist destinations, sites of natural beauty, cultural, popular and religious activities during this summer season. The Summer Plan 2024 executed by the MTI has reached 77% compliance and will end in the last week of March.  (Primerisima, 14 March 2024)

New Road Ready from Pan-American Highway to Pacific in Rivas
On March 21 the Sandinista Government will inaugurate the second section of the Ochomogo-Las Salinas highway, in the municipality of Tola, department of Rivas. With these 14 new kilometers of road, the construction of the 29-kilometer Ochomogo-Las Salinas Road infrastructure project will be complete. The project improves the connection between the Pan-American Highway South and the Pacific coastline, making travel safer and shortening travel time for the residents of Rivas and for tourists visiting the country’s southern Pacific beaches. (La Primerisima, 18 March 2024)

Almost Half a Million Children Given Vitamins and Dewormed 
The Ministry of Health reported that in compliance with the activities of the national plan to follow-up on the nutritional status of children between birth and 6 years of age, 417,792 children were seen as of March 17. Over 200 thousand house-to-house and school visits were made to children under 6 years of age, who received deworming, vitamin A, zinc and micronutrients treatments. Also 55,470 women received counseling on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding of babies up to six months of age and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years. In addition, 36,229 children received attention to monitor and improve their nutritional status. Nearly 37 thousand members of the community network were trained and certified to identify children with nutritional problems and promote healthy lifestyles. And 20,368 campaigns, nutritional health fairs and meetings were held in the communities with parents, teachers, students, pregnant women and community leaders to exchange experiences about the benefits of breastfeeding, healthy eating and physical activity for growth. Over ten thousand visits were made by the Community Network as part of the Program for Monitoring and Promoting Growth and Development. MINSA also monitored 3,828 pregnant women who are receiving follow-up attention due to low weight gain in their babies. In addition, 4,808 premature infants received care in all health units. (La Primerisima, 18 March 2024)

Presentation of a Map on Tradition, Art and Popular Culture
On March 14 the Ministry of Education (Mined) presented the National Map of Nicaraguan Tradition, Art and Popular Culture, to promote the cultural richness of the municipalities throughout the country. The educational authorities said that the map is a tool of vital importance in academic formation and in the promotion of tourism at the local and international level. The head of MINED, Mendy Aráuz, said, “These are tools that allow members of the educational community to strengthen their knowledge, identity and pride as Nicaraguans. That is why we are officially launching the map on Nicaraguan culture. It is a tool that contains a lot of information about our cuisine, cultural practices and national heritage that we must know, preserve and promote.” It is an easy-to-use tool and has several tabs, each of them classifying the aspects to be learned such as gastronomy, dances, crafts, and other components. Professor Wilmor Lopez said that “It is a unique map in Latin America, an interactive map that serves as a tool for students, cultural scholars and tourists; it is a contribution to culture and identity, to better knowing this beautiful country and its cultural strength.” Go to  to access this map. (La Primerisima, 14 March 2024)

Pet Parade in Honor of San Lázaro in León
Wearing exotic costumes, the pets with their owners were part of a religious parade held on March 17 in the Indigenous neighborhood of Sutiaba in the city of Leon. The activity was a salute in honor of San Lazaro, which is celebrated on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Young people from the Guardabarranco Environmentalist Movement gave prizes to the owners of the pets with the best costumes. A similar religious event is celebrated in other parts of the country including Monimbo, Masaya. The celebration originates from the Gospel parable about the rich man and Lazarus, a beggar who was accompanied by dogs that licked his sores. This saint has been celebrated in Nicaragua since a cholera epidemic in the 19th century. Since then, many have entrusted themselves to Lazarus to heal their ailments. See photos: (La Primerisima, 18 March 2024)

Moody’s Raises Nicaragua Ratings to B2; Maintains Stable Outlook 
International risk rating agency Moody’s Ratings raised the long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings of the Government of Nicaragua to B2 from B3, noting that the outlook remains stable. “The upgrade of Nicaragua’s ratings from B3 to B2 reflects Moody’s view that Nicaragua’s credit profile has strengthened structurally due to the accumulation of significant fiscal and external buffers above Moody’s previous expectations, as a result of the authorities’ concerted policy efforts to mitigate the challenges of international sanctions,” Moody’s said, noting that Nicaragua has managed to accumulate more than US$5.6 billion in international reserves. (Informe Pastran, 19 March 2024)

Honduras Ratifies Maritime Boundary Agreement with Nicaragua
On March 19, the Honduran National Congress unanimously ratified the maritime limits treaty signed between Honduras and Nicaragua in a controversial session in which the leaders of the Honduran legislature at one point ordered the departure of the journalists who were covering the proceedings. The “Treaty of limits between the Republic of Honduras and the Republic of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea and waters off the Gulf of Fonseca” was signed on October 27, 2021, by President Daniel Ortega and former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who before leaving office in January 2022 asked the new authorities to adopt it. The treaty confirms the maritime border between the two countries in the Gulf of Fonseca in accordance with the 1992 ruling of the International Court of Justice (World Court) in The Hague. The seventh clause of the Treaty reads as follows: “The Gulf of Fonseca and its internal waters up to the closing line shall continue to be recognized as a historic bay and the rights of the [adjacent] States to its use, including navigation, shall continue to be respected. With this in mind the Contracting Parties agree to invite El Salvador to continue with the efforts to maintain the Gulf of Fonseca as a Zone of Peace, Sustainable Development and Security and to expand the ties of cooperation.”

The treaty was supported by 122 Honduran congressmembers who voted in favor of its ratification. “Today the Congress ratified the treaty of the Gulf of Fonseca that was signed in 2021 by Nicaragua,” said Carlos Zelaya, secretary of the National Congress. The treaty also establishes that Honduras and Nicaragua recognize the authority of the International Court of Justice to determine the maritime limits of both nations in the Caribbean Sea and in waters outside the Gulf of Fonseca.

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina noted that the ratification of the treaty between Honduras and Nicaragua is of great importance because it marks a historic milestone that comes to strengthen a zone of peace and sustainable development. Reina stated that he went to the National Congress on behalf of the government Xiomara Castro to a session he described as “transcendental.” He stressed that in order to strengthen the rights and national sovereignty of Honduras, the National Congress voted unanimously in favor of this treaty that puts an end to more than a century of territorial disputes between the two nations, emphasizing that the treaty “ends cases before the ICJ and treaties, using the peaceful means that international law provides for the settlement of disputes and for brotherhood and peace.” (La Primerisima, 20 March 2024)