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President Calderon is trying to become a leader on climate change. But is it all for show?
The real focus, however, of Mexico’s green makeover is Calderon’s “Green Fund.” The president has promoted the idea as a potential successor to the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol.
The fund would consist of $10 billion donated from all but the poorest of countries around the world. The amount each country contributes would depend on three factors: its GDP per capita plus its present and historical share of greenhouse gas emissions. Rich or developed countries could withdraw up to half of their contributions, while developing countries could withdraw twice their share.
If adopted, the Green Fund “will finance projects oriented toward reducing carbon emissions or capturing carbon from the atmosphere,” Calderon explained last month.
France, Britain and Germany have praised the Green Fund as a good idea. But many countries have balked at endorsing it, or insisted that it supplement a more rigorous, binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.
“Getting climate change and the environment onto the table rhetorically is not a small feat, so that has been a success,” said Shannon O’Neil, a Mexico expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But the question for the Calderon government over the next three years is: Will there actually be this investment?”
Mexico currently produces 650 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, or 1.5 percent of the world total, making it the 13th largest polluter.
Calderon has said the Green Fund will bring green technology to developing countries that ordinarily wouldn’t have the funds for such projects. But the fund also has its fair share of critics who say that it — like ProArbol — favors large, international corporations.
“The Green Fund doesn’t represent the transferring of technology, but rather the application of technology that’s in the hands of other countries,” said Rosario Perez, a professor of economics and environmental studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
“The money will end up going to the international companies that build the projects,” said Perez, while Mexican businesses “won’t even learn anything, because the technology won’t belong to them.”
Ultimately, the Green Fund is just a finance mechanism, not a quick solution to climate change, said Roberto Cabral, assistant director for strategic financing at Mexico’s Secretariat for Environment and Natural Resources. Nor does it preclude any additional treaties or restrictions on emissions, he added.
And while some have called the Green Fund an attempt to distract attention from Mexico’s bloody drug war, Cabral says the government’s environmental reputation is beyond debate.
“Mexico’s global leadership on this issue is not something we’re searching for,” he said. “It’s a consequence of what we’ve been doing.”
Residents of El Coto might beg to differ.