As one of the world's most polluted cities, Mexico City has made strong commitments to reduce emissions and become more efficient. During today's OnPoint, Mexico City's environment minister, Martha Delgado, discusses her city's climate action plan and explains what Mexico's greatest climate change-related vulnerabilities are. Delgado explains how a new international climate plan will affect her city's emissions reduction efforts. She also gives her take on what role the United States should play at the upcoming Copenhagen meeting.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to the show. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Environment Minister Martha Delgado of Mexico City. Minister Delgado, thanks for coming on the show.
Martha Delgado: Thank you very much for inviting me.
Monica Trauzzi: Minister Delgado, as one of the world's most polluted cities Mexico City has taken up a very active stance on climate change with the creation of the Mexico City Climate Action Plan. It's a five-year program that's now in its second year. Why was this created? Why was it such an important initiative to start up in your city?
Martha Delgado: First of all, because we recognize that we are involved in the problem. Mexico City is emitting 6 percent of GHG emissions of the whole country and we organize 13,000 travels per day for example in the transportation sector. And the major of Mexico City is very committed with the green policy. Then we build up a green plan and we organize also these 26 measures in order to mitigate GHG emissions and to adapt the city to this phenomenon that is already in place.
Monica Trauzzi: What were some of the impacts that you were seeing in your city that sort of raised red flags and told you guys they needed to start up a plan like this?
Martha Delgado: First, we faced this year water scarcity very, very strong. Also flooding problems, fire in the forest and the city has changed our climate patterns. The meteorological system showed also that we are 2 degrees hotter rather than 10 years ago, 100 years ago. So in 100 years the city increased the temperature 2 degrees and for that reason we are losing crops. We have risk of our forest in the city, half of our territory still being forest in Mexico City. Also we have a lot of water problems right now that we have to face in the future in order to distribute correctly this scarce resource to the citizens.
Monica Trauzzi: So, specifically, what are some of the main initiatives of this plan?
Martha Delgado: Yeah, we have four fields; fuels, transportation, water, waste management and energy efficiency.
Monica Trauzzi: Mexico is a major manufacturing hub. Is it possible to implement programs like the one that you're talking about without seeing negative impacts on the economy and your manufacturing base? That's one of the concerns that we have here in the U.S., especially with the Midwestern states.
Martha Delgado: Well, Mexico City has changed a lot our economy. In the last years we moved on from a manufacturing economy to a more service, technology, non-industrial industry. So Mexico City is now developing all whole new economy based on health services, technology, organizing our infrastructure not in a polluting way, but in sustainable ways. We have also been working on regulations in order to avoid the environmental impacts of development.
Monica Trauzzi: And how does that impact your relationship with the United States?
Martha Delgado: Well, NAFTA affected the whole country, but in the last years the industrial economy was developed outside of Mexico City, not in the city, but in other states. So Mexico City has now the opportunity. We used to grow a lot in the last 40 years, but now the population of the city is established. We are 8 million and in the metropolitan zone we are 20 million people and we have this economic opportunity to move our policies for sustainability.
Monica Trauzzi: How big of a factor is the training and education of the people in your city? I mean how important is that the success of this plan?
Martha Delgado: This is a very important. We have a lot of good policies and investments in order to mitigate GHG emissions and also for adaptation. But without public participation it is not possible to get our goals accomplished because we need a complete change of habits and behaviors in the city to gain also the GHG mitigation goal that we have. We intend to reduce 7 million tons of CO2 equivalent in four years. So we need people to participate and if we need citizen participation the first thing that we have to do is inform citizens what they have to do and why, for example, energy waste management or water reduction is important to avoid or why these problems are related to climate change.
Monica Trauzzi: What impact will an international plan have on your city's ability to afford and move forward with the plan?
Martha Delgado: Do you know what is really helping, the carbon market and the Kyoto Protocol, the MDLD, the clean development mechanism, CDM, is improving the practices of cities for example in transportation, to capture methane of waste fields. And if we develop a second part of Kyoto Protocol, the cities are going to take advantage of those economical facilities, the economic incentives in order to change policies, energy policies, or in order to manage cities with that climate component. Cities have to decide every day what to do with buses, with waste, with water, with light bulbs in the streets. And if we have the correct incentive, economical incentives, then we are going to move on with climate policies.
Monica Trauzzi: So then what are Mexico's goals going into the Copenhagen meeting?
Martha Delgado: Well, what mayors of big cities are going to say at Copenhagen, including Mayor Ebrard, who is a very progressive mayor of Mexico City, is that local governments are already doing things. They are not talking about what commitments they are going to do in 2050. The local governments are acting right now and they are going to show that governments can commit and they are able to organize their own policies, economies, and societies and communities differently in order to mitigate GHG emissions and to adapt the cities and the little communities for climate change, that it is becoming a very important matter for local governors or mayors. And they are going to show that they are able to commit and they are going to ask national governments to do the same.
Monica Trauzzi: Final question here. What leadership role are you hoping to see from the United States at Copenhagen?
Martha Delgado: I think that maybe it is not the proper time because the laws are not in place right now and are not going to be voted in the next two or three weeks. But all the world is waiting is that United States and China also show that they are able to talk about a specific commitment in the future and maybe get this deforestation, this ... strategies have more leadership in these protection. Also take more importance to the decisions that emerging countries are going to show there. I mean maybe if the United States give some chance to the Kyoto protocol or to commitments, to have commitments, the other nations that are just waiting, if the United States is going to do something they are going also to make these little steps.
Monica Trauzzi: It would be encouraging.
Martha Delgado: They would be encouraged to commit. What we need really is the commitments of governments. Local governments are going to have an important role in this next ... and we all hope that national governments also have the leadership for the next one that could be in Mexico in 2010.
Monica Trauzzi: OK, we will end it right there. Thank you for coming to the show.
Martha Delgado: Thank you very much.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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