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Challenge at Cancun


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. No State can be immune to its impacts, and no State alone can solve the problem. We must act globally. The atmosphere is our global commons and we should be able to overcome old debates and provide concrete and substantial actions, according to our respective responsibilities and capabilities.

In an increasingly small and interlinked world, everyone’s fate is bound together. The recent economic crisis has been a strong reminder of this. Dealing with climate change goes to the very heart of development strategies and to the way our economies are run. We should not delay the necessary decisions. Action is essential if we are to succeed in building more equitable and fairer societies, and in alleviating poverty.

In Mexico, we estimate that 15 per cent of our national territory, over 68 per cent of our population and more than 70 per cent of our GDP is highly exposed to the impacts of climate change. In 2005 we suffered the worst hurricane season ever, with economic costs that reached 0.6 per cent of our GDP. In 2009 we had a serious drought, and in 2010 an unprecedented rainy season has produced the worst flooding in our recent history.

The good news is that climate change is also an opportunity for revisiting our individual carbon footprint, reorienting investments for clean, efficient and renewable technologies in all sectors, and enhancing international cooperation towards a low carbon global economy. Those that adapt the best to the demands of a low carbon world will be best placed to take advantage of the new opportunities in a cleaner and most sustainable future. International support must go to societies that need it the most.

Mexico is willing to act. All sectors of Mexican Government and society are coordinating on mitigation and adaptation policies and measures, which are largely set out in our Special Climate Change Program. Through this Program, Mexico aims to achieve unilateral emissions reduction objectives of 51 million tons of CO2-equivalent by 2012, and up to 30 per cent of our emissions from a business-as-usual scenario by 2020 with the support of external financing.

With regard to clean energies, by 2012 over one quarter of our electricity will come from renewable sources, including solar and wind power generation. Mexico has also established programmes to replace traditional energy light bulbs with efficient ones and is offering subsidies to help households replace old refrigerators with far more efficient ones.

Nevertheless, national efforts such as ours are only a part of the international puzzle in which every nation must contribute to an effective, global and fair response to climate change. We must reach agreements on the outstanding central issues in the negotiations, demonstrating the capacity of the United Nations system to address global challenges through effective consensus-building mechanisms.

Cancun, Mexico, is host to the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the sixth Meeting of the Parties (CMP 6) to the Kyoto Protocol. As incoming President of the Conferences, Mexico is working hard in order to advance negotiations in an inclusive and transparent way. We have placed a high priority on rebuilding confidence among the parties and on the process itself.

In Cancun we could agree upon a concrete package of decisions that strengthens implementation of the climate regime, ensuring the continuity of its basic principles. We must show our political will and start a new era of delivering global action, based on what science tells us is required.

Developed countries must demonstrate clear leadership with ambitious emission reduction commitments in the mid and long term. According to UNEP data, the current pledged reductions by Annex-I countries add up to 11-16 per cent cuts on 1990 levels by 2020. This is well below the 25-40 per cent range recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The global nature of climate change requires a sense of shared responsibility. Developing countries should also agree on enhanced and appropriate mitigation actions, in conformity with our common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.

As a developing country, Mexico knows first-hand that financing is key to increasing serious climate change actions. The current financial system for climate change is limited in scope and has an inadequate structure of governance. A solid agreement on finance is paramount to allow solid progress in other areas of the Bali Action Plan.

We must facilitate developing countries’ access to financial support for mitigation and adaptation policies and projects, recognizing the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as establishing a dynamic framework for technology development and transfer. Action on adaptation must allow developing countries to enhance their resilience to adverse impacts.

The regime will necessarily require transparency provided by streamlined and clear procedures. Whether through measuring, reporting and verifying mitigation and finance actions by developed countries, or by an international consultation and analysis mechanism for developing countries, we can all agree on the importance of building confidence and following-up on the efforts undertaken.

Time is running out. In order to achieve significant progress in Cancun, all countries must increase their levels of ambition. It is in each of our nations’ best interest to do so.

We can and must succeed in moving to a low emission future while ensuring there are sufficient supplies of energy and economic growth to meet the needs of our populations. The conferences in Cancun provide a unique opportunity to reverse a dangerous trend. The international community must not fail to produce concrete and credible results.

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