Press releases

Monday 22 Sep 2008

Mexico to Host World Environment Day under the Theme ‘Your Planet Needs You’

Mexico City/Nairobi, September 2008—Mexico, a country at the crossroads of the Green Economy and one increasingly in the centre of regional and global affairs, will host the international 2009 World Environment Day celebrations.

Mexico, a country at the crossroads of the Green Economy and one increasingly in the centre of regional and global affairs, will host the international 2009 World Environment Day celebrations.

The theme chosen by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which coordinates the day on 5 June on behalf of the UN system and the peoples of the world, will be ‘Your Planet Needs You—UNite to Combat Climate Change”.

It reflects the urgency for nations to agree on a new agreement at the crucial climate convention meeting in Copenhagen some 180 days later in the year, and the links with overcoming poverty and improved management of forests.

The news that Mexico has been chosen to host World Environment Day (WED) 2009 was announced jointly by President Felipe Calderón and Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director at a press conference in Mexico City.

The decision in part reflects the growing practical and political role of the Latin American country in the fight against climate change, including its growing participation in the carbon markets.

Mexico is also a leading partner in UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign. The country, with the support of its President and people, has spearheaded the pledging and planting of some 25 per cent of the trees under the campaign.

UNEP has now launched a new and more ambitious phase—the Seven Billion Tree Campaign.

This aims to see more than one new tree planted for every person alive by the Copenhagen meeting as one empowering symbol of the global publics’ desire for action by their political leaders on the greatest challenge for this generation.

Mr Steiner, who is also a UN Under-Secretary General, said: “I am delighted that the President and the people of Mexico will be the hosts of WED only some 180 days before governments meet in Copenhagen before the crucial UN climate convention meeting”.

“Mexico is at the cross-roads of the Green Economy politically, physically and practically. Firstly it still has many challenges, from high air pollution in cities and dependence on fossil fuels to land degradation and the need to fight poverty. But Mexico is also emerging as one among a group of developing economies who are bringing much needed leadership to the need for a new, comprehensive and decisive climate treaty,” he said.

Mr Steiner (see notes to editors on new data) said that in addition Mexico was seizing the opportunities of the carbon markets and had, in just four short years, become second only to Brazil in terms of wind, solar, biogas and other Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in the region.

“Thirdly Mexico’s ambitions in terms of combating climate change under its new Special programme—ambitions that include renewable energy to using forests and other nature-based assets as carbon sinks-- will send a clear message to countries in the region and the world that Mexico means to be part of the solution,” he noted.

“Finally, Mexico is set to be one of the big economies of the 21st century along with nations like China and India. Thus its ability to encourage the greening of the economy of neighboring nations—both North and South of its borders- will be significant,” he noted.

Notes to Editors

Climate Change
Mexico, which accounts for around 1.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, is demonstrating its commitment to climate change on several fronts.

Mexico was praised by Non Governmental Organizations at the recent climate convention talks in Accra, Ghana for being among a group of countries willing to build bridges between the North and the South.

UNEP is looking forward to the shortly-to-be published Special Programme on Climate Change covering 2008-2012.

It is likely to set ambitious goals for the Mexican economy from boosting the climate-friendliness of ‘hard’ infrastructure via energy efficiency and an increase in renewables to boosting the carbon management of Mexico’s ‘soft’ infrastructure including its forests and soils.

New Findings on Mexico and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
Today UNEP also launched new data underlining how Mexico is seizing the opportunities presented by the UN-brokered carbon markets.

The Centre’s researchers estimate that Mexico’s CDM projects in the validation; requesting registration or registered phases have accumulated to 187 projects by September 2008.

This is up from 4 in 2004 and in terms of Latin America Mexico is now second after Brazil with 303 projects.

This is followed by Chile, 56; Colombia, 32 and Argentina, 30. The country in the region with the least projects registered or in the pipe line is Guyana with one.

The lion’s share of Mexico’s CDM projects are currently agricultural and involve the flaring of methane produced by animal wastes. 55 per cent of CDM projects are in this category.

Close to 30 per cent of the projects are renewables which includes wind, solar, biogas and biomass. Biogas represents 70 per cent of Mexico’s CDM renewables—here the methane from wastes is harvested to generate electricity rather than flared.

The Risoe Centre stresses that, given Mexico’s relatively high level of industrialization, it has huge opportunities in terms of energy efficiency which remain to be exploited.

If all its CDM projects to date are registered, then Mexico could generate over 14 million Certified Emission Reduction (CERS) annually versus a world total of 529 million.

Risoe estimates that, by 2012 there could be a total of 1,600 Latin American and Caribbean CDM projects in the pipeline or registered—a more than doubling.

It is estimated that 260 million CERs could be generated equaling $3.9 billion with a value per CER of $15 a tonne of C02.

Solar Water Heaters
UNEP announced today that it is also assisting the UN Development Programme and Mexico--with funding from the Global Environment Facility-- on a project to boost Mexico’s solar water heater sector.

The programme will cooperate with Mexico’s National Solar Water Heater Program (known as PROCALSOL) to develop a supportive regulatory environment and to assist in building the market demand and the supply chain for solar water heaters (SWHs).

The aim is to reach the total capacity of 2,500,000 cubic metres of installed SWH systems in Mexico by the end of 2011.

It also aims to support continuing sustainable growth of the market beyond the project’s life in order to reach the target to 23.5 million cubic metres of installed capacity by 2020.

This has been estimated to correspond to an estimated cumulative greenhouse gas reduction potential of over 27 million tons of CO2 by 2020.

China, the world leader in solar water heaters, has an installed solar water heater capacity of around 100 million cubic metres million and has created 600,000 green jobs.
Thus, by 2020, Mexico might have the potential to generate jobs for some 150,000 people in this sector as a result of the new project.

About World Environment Day
World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of UNEP.

WED is commemorated each year on 5 June in a different city. It is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.

The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. World Environment Day is also a popular event with colourful activities such as street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well as recycling and cleaning-up campaigns.

On that particular day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. Pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management. It also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions.

Last year the main global host was New Zealand and the theme was ‘Kick the C02 Habit-Towards a Low Carbon Economy’.

For More Information Please Contact

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +254-20 7623084; Mobile in Kenya +254 (0) 733 632755; Mobile when travelling +41 79 596 57 37, or E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org 

Anne-France White, UNEP Associate Information Officer, on Tel: +254 (0)20 762 3088; Mobile in Kenya: +254 (0)728 600 494, or E-mail: anne-france.white@unep.org

 

Monday 22 Sep 2008
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