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Towards a green future: Mexico, example of sustainable development

13 October 2009 No Comment
The cartoon Jurdy courtesy of www.jurdygreen.com

Jurdy Mexican: courtesy of www.jurdygreen.com

The challenge for the world and, therefore, of each country, is to take proper actions to prevent the advance of climate change. Local news may manage to distract our attention from this subject, but there are urgent and important actions to be taken by all of us.

Mexico, like many countries, has implemented an array of strategies to protect the environment and the current quality of life of its citizens. An article in the British newspaper The Guardian recently mentioned the Zero Emissions program in Mexico City as an example for Latin America and also for countries like the UK. But it is not only programs like this that put Mexico on the lead of strategy-adoption aimed at achieving the future we all want.

In recent years, Mexico has significantly decreased its carbon dioxide emissions without sacrificing economic development, and actually seeing significant growth. According to the Millennium Development Goals’ indicators presented by the UN from 1990 to date, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per year for one thousand Mexicans dropped from 4.6 to 3.62 tons, a decrease of 22% – while the world average during the same period saw an increase of 52%. In fact, Mexico, The Netherlands, UK and Singapore are the only examples of countries in the world who have achieved a decrease.

However, this decrease is not the most important fact. The amount of emissions we use to produce our wealth is what’s most striking. To produce our current gross domestic product (GDP), Mexico emits only 3.6 tons. In 1990, according to data on world GDP from World Development, the British had a GDP per capita similar to what Mexicans have today. However, their emissions per thousand inhabitants on that year were 10 tons – they have slightly reduced their emissions to 9.4 tons today.

The global discussion at times is limited to saying that developing countries have a “right” to emit, while developed countries have a “duty” to reduce their emissions. Reviewing the case of Mexico, this argument seems not to hold. In the past 18 years, our production has grown 255%, without affecting the environment. Only Luxembourg, Singapore, Holland and Iceland share this phenomenon with Mexico. Very few other countries have reduced their emissions, such as Colombia and the United Kingdom, but are far from showing this exchange between development and sustainability. Of course, we are leaving aside the extreme cases of the United States with 32 tons, and the impact of China and India in relation to their number of citizens.

Last May, Mexico proposed the creation of the Green Fund, in which nations take responsibility and bear costs associated with their production of carbon emissions. This initiative, supported and applauded by Al Gore, opens new options for solving this problem from a different perspective and reinforces the path towards the forthcoming UN Conference on Climate Change to be held in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Furthermore, Mexico has also become a forerunner in the race against climate change by pledging to implement an ambitious environmental program supported by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB).

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