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Cancun to host climate talks

By Juliet Eilperin

This year's international United Nations climate conference will be held in Cancun rather than Mexico's capital, Mexican officials confirmed Monday.

Mexican president Felipe Calderón informed representatives from several key nations during last month's climate conference in Copenhagen that it would take place there, according to Mexican Embassy spokesman Ricardo Alday, and then finalized the decision a few weeks later. While the conference is tentatively slated for Nov. 30 to Dec. 10 those dates could change slightly, he said.

The decision to hold an international summit on global warming in a beach resort area known for its ability to lure U.S. college students during spring break may raise questions from some, but Alday said it will underscore the area's resort appeal.

"We want to highlight Cancun as a tourist destination," he said. "After the difficult year we had last year, the recovery of the tourism industry is well underway, and I think this will help cement that recovery and show one of the nicest places of our country."

However in an interview Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who has made reducing greenhouse gas emissions one of the hallmarks of his administration, questioned the decision to hold the event in Cancun. Mexico City plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 7 million metric tons between 2008 and 2012, and it already cut its emissions by 757,000 metric tons in its first year.

"For me it doesn't make sense," Ebrard said. "Cancun doesn't have a climate change program. It can be nice and warm, but it's not very green."

Alday said the city of Cancun has undertaken climate initiatives as well.

Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Cancun could be a good site to accommodate the tens of thousands of people who may attend the U.N.-sponsored climate talks. Five times as many attendees registered for the Copenhagen talks than the U.N. negotiations the year before in Poznan, and the large number of attendees posed a problem for the talks' Danish hosts last month.

"Part of the challenge of Copenhagen was a logistical challenge, and obviously Cancun is a city that's prepared for large numbers of people to flood in," Schmidt said. "The challenge for Mexico is to take the strong public support that those numbers of people embody and make the system work so we can produce an outcome that puts us on the path for solving this challenge."


Juliet Eilperin

 |  January 25, 2010; 6:24 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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