There is significance to the fact that the current United Nations’ climate change conference is taking place here in Cancún, Mexico. As part of Central America, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, Cancún’s coastline is dotted with the Mesoamerican Reef, one of the three great barrier reefs of the world. It is threatened by impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and rising sea temperatures.
These reefs will be highlighted and discussed by negotiators over the coming two weeks as the conference unfolds, and we hope they are beneficiaries of the awareness and leadership needed to conquer climate change as a global community.
A great example of the leadership that is possible: in 2008, Brazil issued a “black list” of municipalities that have the highest deforestation rates. But in unison, Brazil created incentives – including tax credits and financing benefits – for municipalities that are able to improve their practices and get off the black list. In the case of one, Paragominas, The Nature Conservancy helped the community get off the list.
These talks in Cancún are attempting to create a system that allows countries — like Brazil and the leadership it has shown on forest preservation — to cooperate around these types of actions.
And these actions really need to start in the U.S., where a great investment in the country’s stability can be made at very little cost to the public. When the Senate declined to settle on a climate-change bill in August, it was a real setback for the U.S. and also for these international negotiations.
Duncan Marsh is director of international climate policy for The Nature Conservancy
Video by: Paul Mackie/The Nature Conservancy
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