Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest updates about Their Royal Highnesses including news, events and photos straight to your inbox

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess
of Cornwall

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince Harry

Open

News and Diary

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall

Advanced Search

Show news and diary for:

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Energy and Climate Change Meeting in Campeche, Mexico

Published on 4th November 2014

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am most thankful to the Governor for his extremely kind words and unbelievably warm hospitality. I'm only sorry my wife could not come and she sends her apologies. I must also apologise for keeping you waiting. I was drawn into giving a rather bad example of local dancing! Its just as well you didn't see it!

I am particularly glad to be able to join you today for this important meeting on Mexico's energy future within the context of global climate change.

For a long time, Mexicohas played an important leadership role in the global effort to broker a serious, binding, and ambitious climate deal.  The Cancún climate summit in 2010 not so far from here provided a welcome boost to the international negotiations post-Copenhagen, and was in its success a worthy testament to the skills of Mexican multilateralism and your Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Recently, I was heartened by President Peña Nieto's remarks at the U.N. Climate Leaders Summit in New York and his reaffirmation of Mexico’s strong commitments.  Equally, the recent New Climate Economy Report, which benefitted from the wise guidance of former President Calderón, is also a landmark on the road to COP21 in Parisin December 2015, and one which bears the welcome stamp of Mexico’s diplomatic pragmatism.  Mexico has long been considered a key player in brokering a strong multilateral deal in Paris, and in this regard as in so many others remains a vital partner to the U.K.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

In light of the present Government's energy reforms, it seems to me that your meeting today to discuss their implications for economic growth and for Mexico's ambitious climate goals (which, if I may say so, also give Mexico an ongoing role as a regional leader in Latin America and more widely on this issue) could not be more timely.  I do believe the companies and organizations present here today can provide the authority that will keep Mexicoin the vanguard of the international effort to prevent catastrophic climate change.  You have only to read the latest IPCC report to recognise how important these issues are. Ladies and Gentlemen, I fear it is absolutely vital for ourselves and those who come after us that you do so, because the question of how Mexico resolves her domestic energy challenges will not only have a significant impact on the resilience of your economic growth, but will also provide an important template for the many other countries facing the same issues.

As you are only too aware, Mexico's recent energy reforms enable significant new investment in the Mexican energy sector.  There is no doubt that such investment could bring about social and environmental benefits to the industry, including improvements in energy efficiency, in health and safety and will, I am sure, lead to a substantial renewal of infrastructure in the sector.

However, one might perhaps be justifiably concerned that such improvements could, if the reforms succeed in their stated purpose, also be accompanied by an increase albeit at higher levels of efficiency of output by Mexico’s hydrocarbon sector and, therefore, of the country’s and of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.  This, in turn, could affect global chances of remaining within a net 2 degree rise in global temperatures the threshold established by the international scientific community to which world leaders are ostensibly committed to prevent runaway climate change.  We understand only too well (or we shoulddo by now) and the latest Synthesis from the I.P.C.C.’s Fifth Assessment Report, published two days ago, as I was mentioning earlier, makes this even clearer that the ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible consequences’ of climate change, left unchecked, including the further melting of the Greenland ice cap, sea level rise threatening coastal cities, like Campeche, and the disruption of monsoons that are vital to agriculture, could be beyond our capacity to rectify. 

On the other hand, Mexico’s reforms could and, dare I say, must play an important role in enabling your country’s ambitious renewable energy targets to be met.  In this respect, I am enormously encouraged by the progress the government has made in this area for, unlike the oil and gas sector - which is obviously based on finite resources, and could well become a stranded industry as the effects of climate change bite - enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year.  It seems to me that given the challenges we face, it would be verging on the criminal not to do all that we can, as fast as we can, to tap and utilize this resource.  And, to do so, we must ensure that renewable energy is at least competing on equal terms with carbon-based energy, rather than the current situation where globally it receives twenty-five times less levels of subsidy.  Surely this is total insanity?  I'm not an economist, but I do think I have a little bit of common sense! And, if I may, Ladies and Gentlemen, I fear that we will also miss a trick unless we embrace the concept of a circular economy - not a linear one - not least in the utilization of waste and sewage in energy production, something which I know the President is thinking about seriously and which I've been taking seriously for the past 25 years.

It seems to me that in the new Stabilisation and Development Fund you have an instrument of potentially great significance. It could help provide the capital necessary to enable Mexico to seize the many opportunities that the renewable energy sector offers and, by doing so, give support for building a truly resilient low carbon economy. This would in turn encourage the development of innovative technologies, increase employment and help the establishment of new businesses that will give Mexico a real cutting edge in this massive new global market that will soon dominate our economies. You only have to look for opportunities. I tried 20 years ago to try and find suitable investments but if you did invest, you had to wait years for a return. Now the situation has changed dramatically.   This, Ladies and Gentlemen, to me at least, seems a wonderful opportunity that must not be wasted.

I am so pleased to have heard that you had such a productive meeting, and I am so pleased to discover among you  a graduate - the first person in Latin America - of the CISL seminar programme which I set up some 20years ago. It would be rather wonderful if we could establish a chapter here in Mexico and spread capacity and awareness around South America amongst the private sector and also to raise awareness among young people as the Governor mentioned.

I look forward to hearing in the months ahead how the discussions here have helped fashion the development for this sector that is of such fundamental importance to Mexico’s resilient economic growth and, of course, to the wide world at large.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.