The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico

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Dec 012010

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference is now underway in Cancún, Mexico. It began 29 November and closes 10 December 2010. One of the objectives that Mexico hopes to achieve is the setting up of a Global Green Fund to help nations adversely affected by climate change to finance projects of mitigation and adaptation.

IPCC CancunAt the 2009 round of talks, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the countries present failed to agree any significant actions, choosing instead to sign a non-binding agreement and “agree to disagree”.

Prior to the Cancún meeting, four preparatory rounds of negotiations have already been held in 2010. The first three rounds were in Bonn, Germany:  April 9-11;  June 1 – 11; and August 2 – 6. After the August meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon publicly doubted that member states would reach any new agreement on global warming at the Cancún Conference.

The fourth preparatory round of talks, held in Tianjin, China, also made minimal progress as the USA and China could not agree on key issues. However, following that meeting, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said, “This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancún … This is the greatest societal and economic transformation that the world has ever seen.” Other commentators have also spoken of a positive spirit of negotiation, which will hopefully pave the way for an agreement to be reached in Cancún.

We will have to wait until the conclusion of the Cancún Conference before assessing its success or lack thereof, but let us hope that the delegates can this year come to some meaningful, and binding decisions.

Previous posts about global warming:

Mexico’s environmental trends and issues are examined in chapter 30 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, purchase your own copy…

Jul 312010

The relationship between global climate change and (US) immigration is analyzed in a July 26 Scientific American article by David Biello titled “Climate Change May Mean More Mexican Immigration.”

migration at US border

The Mexico-US border

Analysis of data from 1995 to 2005 indicates that a 10% drop in crop yields (from drought) is correlated with an approximate 2% increase in Mexican migration to the USA. Climate change will also affect crop yields in the coming years and can also be expected, therefore, to influence migration rates. This is an interesting new perspective.  Previously, most studies have focused on the relationship between migration and unemployment rates in the USA, as well as the importation of cheap corn from the USA under NAFTA.

Using data on predicted global warming and the relationship between temperature increase and reduction in crop yields, the study suggests the total number of climate refugees [see comment below] emigrating to the USA during the next 70 years could be 1.4 to 6.7 million, an average of about 20,000 to 96,000 per year. This is rather small compared to the estimated average of 460,000 net migrants per year from Mexico to the USA between 1995 and 2005.

Obviously, making such a long range forecast based on current data is risky for several reasons.  First, predicted levels of global warming are uncertain.  Second, new varieties of drought resistant corn and other crops may be developed.  Third, the Mexican farming population is declining.  Fourth, many of these climate refuges could end up in Mexican cities.  Fifth, global warming may affect the number of available jobs in the USA.

Despite these limitations, the study is important because it adds to our understanding of the factors contributing to Mexican migration to the USA and provides a rational estimate of the impact of global warming on migration.  The article by Biello is drawn from research published by Feng et al in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mexican migration to the USA is the focus of chapter 26 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.

Jul 092010

The 4th Assessment Report (2007) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) involved the contributions of 2,500 scientists from 130 countries. The number of Mexican scientists participating was higher than the number from many richer countries including Spain and France. Sixteen Mexican scientists were involved in writing the 4th IPCC report. Ten of the sixteen hold positions at UNAM (the National University in Mexico City), making UNAM one of the institutions in the world with the highest rate of participation.

The 16 Mexican contributors were:
IPCC 4th Report

A further 8 Mexican scientists helped edit the documents:

Many of the same scientists have now been confirmed as members of the international team developing the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC. In addition, the following newcomers have also been appointed:

  • Salvador Lluch-Cota, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, S.C. (Lead author, Ocean systems)
  • Fernando Aragon, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (Urban areas)
  • Ursula Oswald-Spring, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidiscipinarias, UNAM    (Human security)
  • Roberto A. Sanchez Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside  (Adaptation planning and implementation)
  • Edgar Ortiz (Integrated Risk and Uncertainty Assessment of Climate Change Response Policies)
  • Martha Micheline Cariño Olvera (Social, Economic and Ethical Concepts and Methods)
  • Mauricio de María Campos (Sustainable development and equity)
  • Angel de la Vega     (Energy systems)
  • Xochitl Cruz-Nuñez (Transport)
  • Omar Masera (Agriculture, Forestry and other land uses)
  • Gian Carlo Delgado (Human Settlements, Infrastructure and Spatial Planning)
  • Alba Eritrea Gámez Vázquez (Regional Development and Cooperation)
  • Manuel Angeles (National and Sub-National Policies and Institutions)
  • Tomás Hernández-Tejeda, National Institute of Research in Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP)/SAGARPA (Synthesis Report)

Mexico’s diverse climates are the subject of chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Water availability, rivers, aquifers, water issues and hazards are analyzed in chapters 6 and 7. Buy your copy today!