Mexico defends Cancun’s climate progress in Durban

2011-12-08 07:06

Mexican Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira is optimistic that a detailed structure for the Green Climate Fund will emerge from the UN meetings concluding this week in Durban.

But he is less confident for a mandate to discuss a new, broader treaty intended to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in December next year.

In an interview yesterday Elvira, who has represented his country at four previous UN climate talks, said he sees his main job in Durban as defending progress made last year at talks hosted by Mexico in Cancun.

Elvira said Mexico is interested in hosting the Green Climate Fund’s secretariat, which he said belongs in the developing world. That put Mexico in a bidding war with Germany, which made a similar offer earlier in the day.

The Durban talks end tomorrow.

The Cancun 2010 accord included a series of measures outside of the fading Kyoto Protocol, including confirmation of voluntary emission reductions by many developing countries and the United States; anchoring of the Green Climate Fund into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and agreements on transparency in reporting emissions and helping poor countries adapt to warming and deploy clean technology.

Q: How far along do you think negotiators are in the process compared to where you were at this point last year in Cancun?

Elvira: We had at least 19 or 20 meetings around the world with many regions and topics (in the last year). If you have all this process, then you are able to have some input when you arrive at the main event. If not, it is somehow difficult to leave it in the hands of the negotiators to find a very good document which satisfies everybody ... so ... I am waiting.

I wouldn’t like to say it’s good or bad. I will be waiting to see the final conclusion, but things seem to be difficult because the first stone in the entrance of Durban is the Kyoto Protocol. What Mexico really wants now is to protect, defend and implement the Cancun agreements.

Q: Do you have a sense that South Africa has not done all of the preparation work that Mexico did?

Elvira: I’m not sure if they did or not. We tried to offer on several occasions – (for example) with meetings with all environmental ministers from Africa – to prepare a document on adaptation that could be a key document.

But we must be very respectful of the process.

Q: What about the Green Climate Fund? And do you think $100 billion a year in long-term financing is enough?

Elvira: Money will never be enough. ... It’s not a matter of how much money you are asking for, but it’s how are you are planning the process in your country.

Q: Germany wants to host the secretariat. Is that a good idea?

Elvira: Mexico is asking as well to be the venue. My perspective is that we are not a donor country. We created the idea.

(Mexican President Felipe) Calderon created the Green Fund in Mexico, he announced the idea some years ago. We (proposed) the first draft idea in Copenhagen (in 2009). We implemented the idea in the Cancun agreements in Cancun. We, as a developing country, would like to be the venue to really show the results of the process and work with the Latin American countries. And then, in the future, there will be several other venues.

To be honest, the Green Fund secretariat requires several regional offices. It cannot be only in South Africa or only in Mexico, or only in Berlin. (It should be) very near the people of developing countries ... with maybe another one in Africa and another one in Asia.

Q: What about the status of the broader mandate to discuss a new, legally binding treaty that would include the United States and China and go into effect by 2015? This is the precondition by the European Union for committing to a new period of the Kyoto Protocol. Is there any movement at all?

Elvira: I’m not sure. Today we didn’t have any other comment about it. Tomorrow I will have some more information, but I’m not sure it is advancing very easily.

Q: What about public opinion in Mexico after the success of the Cancun talks? Is there more interest in climate policies, and has the Mexican government changed anything?

Elvira: The creation of a new law on climate change by the Mexico Senate (on Tuesday) is a very important issue.

If eight political parties decided that the new law should be approved, it’s very, very good news for Mexico.

The Mexican government is working (to) reduce 10% of emissions on a voluntary basis, not only by the government but also for the private sector – 4 000 companies.

We are looking for a bilateral ... carbon market to really help these companies to do more every time without depending on the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, but looking for some other channel.

We recognize that Mexico only emits (a small portion) of the total amount of global emissions. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is to create this capacity in Mexico.

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