Cancun’s Mangroves Fight Climate Change

Added by on November 28, 2010

Mexico’s famous beach resort, which is the venue for next week’s global climate summit, provides an example of severe environmental destruction of a resource that could help in the fight against climate change.

beach in cancun
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Cancun was founded some 40 years ago, and since then countless acres of mangroves have been removed to make way for up-market hotels and other tourist developments.

Scientists are now increasingly discovering the huge potential of mangroves in fighting climate change. Mangroves are significant “carbon sinks” as they suck an unusually large amount of carbon out of the air, and store it in their underground network of roots.

According to Alfredo Arellano, local director of the Commission for Protected Areas, Mexico looses about one percent of its mangroves every year, or 25,000 acres. Unfortunately, he argued, “There is more profit in tourism than conservation.”

A local tour guide, Rene Gonzalez, said he seen that tensions between development and conservation “almost always end in tree stumps and asphalt.”

However, this might be set to change as the United Nations may implement a global cap and trade scheme that will pay countries to conserve mangroves and other sea plants that store carbon. Under the scheme polluters would buy, sell and swap their right to use carbon fuels.

Climate talks among the 200 countries meeting in Cancun from November 29 to December 10 are expected to focus on developing the carbon market.

“Carbon markets are too underdeveloped to create an appetite for conservation,” said Arellano, “I hope that changes before it’s too late.”

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