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Mexico Aims To Bring CO2 Cut Plan To Climate Talks

Date: 05-Aug-09
Country: MEXICO
Author: Robert Campbell

MEXICO CITY - Mexico aims to put a detailed offer to cut the growth of its own greenhouse gas emissions on the negotiating table at global climate change talks in Copenhagen this year, a senior environmental policymaker said.

"If Mexico can bring a plan for cuts through 2020 to the table with a detailed description of what will be mitigated it would set a positive precedent for the other big emerging economies," said Adrian Fernandez, the president of the National Ecology Institute, in an interview on Monday.

The plan will likely offer significant cuts in expected emissions growth from Mexico, which currently accounts for 1.5 percent of global emissions, by proposing projects like improving efficiency of power plants or reducing deforestation.

Mexico will be able to implement some of the initiatives itself and for others it will look for outside financing.

Global climate talks have moved slowly as developing nations, such as China, have demanded that rich countries shoulder the bulk of the cuts experts say are needed to slow the warming of the earth.

The talks culminate at the end of the year at a major U.N. gathering in the Danish capital, Copenhagen where countries are expected to sign a new climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Mexico shares the view that wealthy countries, led by the United States, will have to provide a substantial amount of money to help poorer governments. The country hopes to win international funds for some of its more expensive initiatives.

Mexico has also been supportive of the United States, which argues it cannot make deep cuts by 2020 but is prepared to commit to slashing emissions by 2050.

PRIVATE SECTOR NEEDED

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has pushed climate change up on the country's agenda. He announced in June that Mexico would voluntarily cut 50 million tons of verifiable annual emissions by the end of his term in 2012 by bolstering efficiency in the state run electricity and oil industries and improving rural land use.

Despite Calderon's personal commitment to the issue, Mexico allowed carbon dioxide emissions from the oil industry to soar in 2008 as massive amounts of natural gas were flared off in a bid to keep aging oil fields in production.

Mexico will need to make extensive legal changes to meet the emissions targets laid out in the plan to be presented in Copenhagen, especially in the electricity and oil sectors which are largely closed to private investment.

"There's not enough public money in the whole world to meet this challenge, the private sector is needed and for the private sector you need clear rules," Fernandez said.

He said complicated legislation governing the electricity sector could hinder adoption of plans for renewable power.

Finding the political will to tackle these sectors could be difficult. The Institutional Revolution Party which won last month's mid-term congressional elections blocked Calderon's attempt to open up oil refining to private investment last year and has vowed to protect the state run utilities.

Businesses are taking note of a plan to launch so-called cap and trade measures in the United States to implement emissions cuts and Mexico could eventually join the scheme, Fernandez said.

(Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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