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Latin America spurs action into low-carbon development

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Mexico and Dominican Republic set new targets as recently launched report asserts huge potential around low-carbon development.

Two countries in Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, are leading the way into renewable energy and low-carbon development. And, this is driven as much by worries over energy costs and security as it is by concerns over carbon.

In the Dominican Republic, three major new wind farms will come into operation this year, adding a combined 133MW of capacity. The President of the National Energy Commission, said that the country is looking to wind power as a significant way to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The Dominican Republic recently set a target to source 25% of its energy use from renewables by 2025, supported by a landmark law providing for incentives which have galvanised rapid investment in the sector. For a country whose energy needs are heavily dependent on unsustainable government subsidies to oil, this makes sense in more ways than one.

These targets coincide with the launch of a key Forum for the Future report in the Dominican Republic later this year named El clima futuro para el desarrollo (The future climate for development), which explores the 'huge opportunity' around climate-resilient and low-carbondevelopment. It considers future responses to climate change in low-income countries, and includes four scenarios for different possible futures in 2030.

Mexico City is leading the way in terms of low-carbon development with a comprehensive15-year 'Green Plan'

The report also highlights the potential for cities to take a lead on low-carbon development, even as national governments falter. This urban context is particularly relevant in Latin America, where 79% of the population live in cities, and it is projected to reach 85% in 2030. Last year, at the Climate Summit in Mexico City, 135 city leaders signed up to a range of commitments to reduce carbon emissions and promote measures to adapt to climate change.

Also, Mexico City is leading the way in terms of low-carbon development with a comprehensive 15-year 'Green Plan' which addresses seven key areas for action: habitability and public space, land conservation, water supply, transportation and mobility, waste and recycling, air pollution, energyand a climate action programme.

Mexico City has committed to spend 7% of its total yearly budget to help reach its target of a 12% reduction in carbon emissions by 2012, with base in 2008. And Mexico City isn't alone, as other Latin American fellows have joined the low-carbon development league. Among signatories is Brazil's Curitiba, home of the acclaimed Bus Rapid Transport system, and Bogotá, Colombia, whose impressive network of bicycle routes ('ciclorutas') has quintupled bike use in the city.

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