Colombia, neighbors to jointly push six key points in COP28 -minister

Colombia's Environment Minister, Susana Muhamad, speaks during a press conference in Bogota
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By Oliver Griffin

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia and its neighbors will together push six key themes at this year's UN climate conference, including help adapting to global warming and swapping debt for climate mitigation, the country's Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said on Friday.

The United Nations 28th meeting on climate, known as COP28, takes places from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai.

Latin American countries will arrive ready to push for common goals thanks to regional meetings earlier this year, Muhamad told Reuters.

"Latin America has traditionally negotiated separately, but we're going to start seeing ourselves represented on some points of agreement and negotiate together," she said.

As well as pushing for help adapting to climate change, Latin American countries will call for the region to be covered by early warning systems to save lives amid disasters due to climate change, she said.

A pledge in 2009 by rich countries to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance to poorer nations is a fraction of what is needed, Muhamad added, saying she would not fixate on numbers.

"I wouldn't settle on a figure, but rather that mechanisms be made available for the scale of the problem," she said.

Separately Colombia will push for a multilateral agreement to phase out fossil fuels, Muhamad said, without giving a deadline, though she recognized the effort will likely not be very popular.

"The north's position is that there will always be hydrocarbons and that if we can reduce emissions this will be sufficient (to solve) climate change. Colombia says it won't be enough," Muhamad said.

The minister warned Colombia's deforestation could increase this year amid the El Nino phenomenon, which causes drier weather, despite progress in halting destruction in 2022.

Last year Colombia cut deforestation by 29.1% to just over 1,235 square kilometers (477 square miles).

"If the warnings and alerts are not sufficient, we could see deforestation explode and grow again," she said.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin;editing by Diane Craft)