Climate Change – Desde Lo Local Conference

San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi

On September 27, 2012, the Forum of Federations organized a panel discussion on climate change policy and sub-national governance at the 9th International Conference on Decentralization in Mexico (Desde Lo Local), held in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Organized by Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior, this annual conference serves as the most important opportunity to bring together over six thousand elected and public officials from Mexico’s three orders of government. This year, the conference was organized around the themes of local economic development, sustainability, and transparency.

Linda Schade, Director of the Black Carbon Reduction Council at the Climate Institute (Washington D.C) opened the panel and made a presentation on the tools that local governments can employ in order to reduce black carbon emissions. Black carbon, together with methane, has been identified as the short-lived climate change forcer offering the best opportunity for fast-acting climate change mitigation. Generated from wood burning cook stoves, diesel transportation and brick kilns, among other activities, the reduction of these short-lived forcers can be achieved through existing methods that provide public health and economic benefits. Local governments can play an important role in reducing black carbon and methane emissions, through upgrading the particulate filters on municipal diesel transport vehicles, improving the emissions standards on brick kilns in their jurisdictions, methane capture from landfills, and supporting the distribution and use of non wood-burning cook stoves.

The second panelist, Peter Globensky, former Executive Director of the Council of Canadian Ministers of the Environment, provided an overview of the Canada’s intergovernmental structure as it relates to environmental protection policy. Mr. Globensky listed the successes of Canadian provinces in working together to co-ordinate environmental management policies such as harmonization of assessment, air quality standards, as well as means of handling dioxins and mercury emissions. However, because of competing interests and the absence of a national strategy, Canadian provinces have been less successful in co-ordinating a coherent climate change policy framework. Much of the coordinated policy decisions have taken place in a regional manner, with neighbouring provinces developing action plans, or as in the case of Atlantic Canada and New England, through international cross-border discussions.

The workshop was attended by over 100 participants from the federal, state and local governments. There was an extensive question and answer period in which local government officials received clarification on specific programs and policies that could be adapted for use in their communities. In San Luis Potosi, a state of 2.5 million located to the north of Mexico City, the greatest threats from climate change are the resultant droughts and, paradoxically, flooding during the rainy season. The state is committed to developing an active strategy to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and welcomed the opportunity to exchange experiences with practitioners from Canada and the United States.

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