Good COP, BAD COP – Mexico 2010

Let’s Talk About Mex
by -- December 9th, 2010

Like most countries hosting a COP event or recently any major public event (i.e. the Olympics), Mexico aimed to make Cancun as “green” as possible prior to the arrival of COP participants. But what will happen to this gorgeous city and our host country once we depart?

Wednesday morning Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed this very question.

One of the main problems in Mexico is awareness. For some reason, our appliances become part of the family. Calderon gave a vivid example of a Mexican grandmother that has had the same refrigerator for over 20 years and refuses to change it because of its sentimental value. I am certain that example hit close to home for most Mexicans in the room. That is our reality, especially among older generations. My grandparents for one really do have a refrigerator that is probably close to 20 years old, but they will not change it because “salio bien bueno” (it came out really good). They don’t realize that fridge is probably guzzling more energy than it needs to be and with more energy efficient appliances they can actually save money. Therefore, Calderon began a program called “Cambia tu Viejo por uno Nuevo”, which replaces old fridges for more energy efficient ones and disposes of the old ones properly.

Mexico has also initiated a program called “Tu casa”, which provides subsidies for homes with a certain amount of energy star products. More specifically, they have also set targets to phase out regular light bulbs. No 100 W bulbs will be sold by next year. By 2013, all light bulbs will need to be energy saving. Taking into consideration the poverty level in some regions of the country, there will be 47 million bulbs distributed to the lowest income families (4/household).

The Mexican President also took great pride in announcing that last year Mexico had the largest increase in wind energy production and continues building on this frontier. He sees significant potential for wind in Mexico’s energy sector. Additionally, they also have hydroelectric projects in progress.

Overall, I see this nation that is dealing with corruption and drug cartels and so much more that we as outsiders do not realize making an honest effort to make climate change and energy initiatives a priority. Seldom does a host country keep its standards as high as during the event they are hosting, but I hope and believe Mexico can be the exception.


  1. Ethan Case
    Dec 14, 2010

    Cancun After the COP

    Hello Selene.

    I can think of one concrete way to make sure that the experience of hosting the COP does not leave Cancun entirely.

    The Universidad del Caribe to the northern part of Cancun hosted youth delegates from all over the world who were attending the conference as part of the Youngo constituency. There was a great deal of support from the administration, and many students volunteered to make this gathering a success. The Universidad is ripe for establishing relationships with environmental groups and/or foreign universities to encourage collaborations that could harness and channel all this influx of “green” awareness and willingness into programs and collaborations that could have long term effects in Cancun.

    Way outside of my capacity right now, but very possible if post-COP Mexico is a concern shared by others at Duke.

    • Selene Castillo
      Jan 4, 2011

      Hi Ethan,

      It’s great to hear that you were able to attend the conference and received generous support from the administration. I cannot speak officially on behalf of everyone, but I for one would definitely be interested in further collaborations with like-minded students in other universities. If you have a project or idea formed later on, feel free to contact me, and I will be more than happy to pass on the information to people at Duke. My email is provided under “Participants” I believe.

      Hope your year is off to a good start!

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