Mexico’s Cities Not Ready for Climate Change

Towns on Mexico’s Caribbean coast are behind schedule on the design and implementation of plans to face the challenges of climate change, in spite of the urgency of measures to reduce vulnerability.

The country’s 2012 General Law on Climate Change requires state and municipal governments to implement programmes addressing issues like greenhouse gas inventories and adaptation and mitigation policies.

IPS visited 37 coastal municipalities in the southeastern states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo, and found that only six had specific programmes, 10 were in the process of creating them, and the rest said they were unaware of the requirement.

Mexico’s Caribbean coast is exposed to increasingly destructive hurricanes and storms and to the threat of rising sea levels, which may flood extensive areas, according to experts. Biodiversity is also menaced by the tourist industry, deforestation, intensive cattle farming and oil industry activities.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting between 13 and 20 tropical storms in the Atlantic hurricane region for this season, of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes.

The municipal climate action plan, PACMUN, was launched in 2011 with pilot programmes in nine municipalities, and now covers 253. Thirty local governments have already drafted their climate plans, and another 30 are expected to complete theirs this year. The plan is promoted by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability, the National Institute of Ecology a

nd Climate Change (INECC) and the British embassy in Mexico.

INECC reports that 1,300 out of the more than 2,500 municipalities in the country are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with 27 million people at risk, out of a total population of 117 million.

PACMUN has identified problems such as disproportionate population growth, inadequate planning, urbanisation, land use changes for housing or cattle ranching, and a lack of basic infrastructure, like sanitation.

The most sensitive sectors include tourism, health, agriculture, biodiversity, human settlements and energy. In spite of this, the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Campeche have barely started work on their climate change plans, although Tabasco’s is ready. These four states emit more than 100 million tonnes of polluting carbon dioxide, out of the 748 million tonnes produced nationally, according to Mexico’s environment ministry.

The national authorities view renewable energies, energy efficiency, non-motorised transport and ecotourism as feasible options to mitigate polluting emissions. But money is a limiting factor, so one goal of PACMUN is to raise funds for implementing the plans.

Source: Emilio Godoy | IPS News