Mexico down-to-earth on Cancun climate summit

The Hindu , Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Correspondent : Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI: Pragmatism is a key word for the Mexican hosts of the next major United Nations conference on climate change this December.

“We do not need to sacrifice our level of ambition, we do not need to compromise on the agreed core principles, but we must be pragmatic,” said Patricia Espinosa, visiting Foreign Minister and chairperson of the 16th Conference of the Parties to be held in Cancun.

Unlike their predecessors at the controversial Copenhagen summit last year, the hosts at Cancun have not played up the hype with slogans about time running out for the planet, and have not billed their conference as a summit of world leaders; nor do they expect any earth-shaking treaty.

Instead, Ms. Espinosa carries the down-to-earth message that climate change negotiations are a “permanently ongoing process. We need to look at these review conferences as how much progress we have made,” she said in an interview with The Hindu here on Tuesday.

World leaders will be welcome, but are not courted. A lot of effort is going into ensuring that the negotiations are transparent and inclusive, and are seen to be so.

While many rich countries have been demanding a new treaty — which would replace the Kyoto Protocol with one that waters down the obligations of the industrialised world and slaps emission targets on large developing countries like India and China — Mexico is taking a pragmatic stance.

Ms. Espinosa's view that the Kyoto Protocol is not expiring, that we need a “continuity of the regime” and that “the existing legal framework is a good basis” would enthuse Indian hearts. “There is no need for a new treaty,” she said.But she also added, “Not at this point. Of course, any treaty can be improved.”

Earlier, speaking to the Indian business community, she said. “If only developed countries act, this is not enough to face the challenges of climate change …We must be realistic about that.”

Green Fund

This pragmatism extends to the financing aspect. Mexico initially suggested that the Green Fund be funded by all countries, including the developing countries, in a bid to change the “recipient-donor” attitude of climate finance.

That proposal got discarded, but Ms. Espinosa made it clear that taxpayers in rich countries could not be expected to shoulder the entire burden.

“It would be very difficult to say that only public money will be used,” she said, referring to the $100 billion per year till 2020 that has been agreed to. “We are considering ways to encourage the increased participation of the private sector.”

Mexico is also suggesting proposals to make the Clean Development Mechanism — which allows rich nations to fund climate-friendly projects in poor nations in return for emissions credits — more agile and less bureaucratic to encourage smaller projects in smaller nations. Next month, it also hopes to launch a website, which will track what is actually happening to the $30 billion that was promised as short-term financing.

Meets Manmohan

Ms. Espinosa met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, telling them that “an ambitious outcome [at Cancun] requires India's sustained political guidance and support.”


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