Mexico stretches funds to cut greenhouse emissions

* Country aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half

* Mexico is host to global climate meeting in November

By Caroline Stauffer

MEXICO CITY, Oct 19 (BestGrowthStock) – Hopes are dim for a global
agreement to help developing nations cut carbon emissions, so
Mexico is relying on an imperfect blend of grants, loans and
ingenuity to meet self-imposed limits on greenhouse gases.

Mexico, which will host world delegates at a climate change
conference in late November, aims to become a laboratory for
cutting carbon, which scientists say contributes to devastating
global warming, without hindering economic growth.

But funding Mexico’s ambitious environmental goals is a big
challenge as the country recovers from its worst recession
since the 1930s. Lack of money is a problem faced by many
developing nations who say rich countries should help pay for
expensive environmental initiatives.

Mexico has pledged to slash 50 million tonnes of carbon per
year by preserving forests and cleaning up the state-run oil
industry. It says the strategy will bear fruit by 2012.

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A global deal to limit greenhouse gases, if it ever comes,
is expected to pour capital into emerging economies for new
technology and to make industry less polluting. Policymakers
meeting in Geneva last month said a “Green Fund” to help pay
for climate change initiatives could be established during the
talks in the Caribbean resort Cancun.[ID:nLDE6821BL]

Mexico says it could be a model for a mix-and-match
approach to finding money for climate change initiatives if the
idea of a fund, which it supports, failed to materialize.

“When developing countries argue they have nothing to do
… we are giving the rich countries the perfect alibi to keep
doing nothing, or nothing relevant, in the fight against
climate change,” President Felipe Calderon said at an energy
efficiency forum last month.

The country has set the goal of cutting total emissions in
half by 2050 without crimping its economy but says the goal
hinges on a commitment of more funds from the developed world.

“Mexico has taken a first step in tackling climate change
alone,” Fernando Tudela, Mexico’s top climate negotiator, told
Reuters in an interview. “But our long-term plans are
contingent on financial and technological support.”

LOANS, PRIVATE INITIATIVES

To pay for the projects that will help it reach its
near-term goals, Mexico has taken out loans, looked to end
unsustainable practices in oil extraction and encouraged
companies to keep track of their carbon footprints.

In July, the World Bank loaned Mexico, Latin America’s No.
2 economy, $350 million to expand public transport.

By 2012, the government says state-run oil company Pemex
[PEMX.UL] will stop burning off gases released in oil
production, a major part of the 54.9 million tonnes of
greenhouse gases the company emitted in 2008.

Pemex has also turned to the carbon trading market — a
scheme that lets polluting companies trade emissions credits —
to provide key funds for new projects.

CleanTech Fund, a private equity group that invests in
green projects estimates Latin America could generate up to $42
billion per year by 2020 from carbon trading.

The government is also looking to the private sector
driving Mexico’s economy to take the lead cutting pollution.

Some 30 businesses and organizations in Mexico, including
beverage giant Coca-Cola FEMSA (FMSAUBD.MX: ) and top retailer
Wal-Mart de Mexico (WALMEXV.MX: ), have signed up to voluntarily
monitor their emissions.

Entrepreneurs also are tapping heaps of garbage to generate
power in Cancun, and Cemex (CMXCPO.MX: ), the world’s No. 3
cement maker, is turning to wind energy to meet its power needs
in the southern state of Oaxaca.

But creative private-sector climate initiatives face
financial obstacles. Mexican banks consider the projects high
risk and some companies say the government could do more.

“There is still a long way to go to secure debt financing
for these projects,” said Ernesto Hanhausen, CleanTech Fund’s
managing director, which helped secure funding for the
electricity generation project at Cancun’s landfill.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

Mexico stretches funds to cut greenhouse emissions