Mexico president to meet U.S. climate adviser Kerry near Guatemala

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks before the traditional military parade to mark the bicentennial of Mexico's Independence from Spain, and ahead of the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at the Zocalo square in Mexico City, Mexico September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will meet U.S. climate adviser John Kerry on Monday near Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, where the two men are expected to discuss a major tree planting program championed by the Mexican leader.

Kerry will visit part of the reforestation project in the state of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador said on Friday. The Planting Life project is seen by the government as both a way to capture carbon to tackle climate change and as a social program.

The meeting comes ahead of the United Nations' COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which neither Lopez Obrador nor his foreign minister is expected to attend.

Pushing back at critics who accuse his government of backsliding on climate action, Lopez Obrador also defended a major electricity reform bill he proposed earlier this month.

The reform prioritizes electricity from the state-run utility, the Comision Federal de Electricidad, or CFE, which mostly generates fossil fuel power.

It would also cancel or otherwise restrict power transmission from private electricity plants, including some new renewable energy facilities.

However, speaking on Friday at his regular morning news conference, Lopez Obrador emphasized that the legislation also envisions a significant increase in the CFE's hydroelectric capacity plus the construction of a massive new solar power project in northern Mexico.

Under President Joe Biden and chief international climate adviser Kerry, the United States has stressed the need for more aggressive action to address global warming.

(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jonathan Oatis)

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