Mexico Leading Research Study

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Research Study: “Modelación de descarbonización profunda del sistema energético en México al 2050”, National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático), prepared by Jorge Alberto Francisco Tovilla Cao-Romero, July of 2015

In 2015, the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change in Mexico funded and published a report on Models for deep decarbonization of Mexico’s energy system by 2050. This study was part of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), developed by The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in which 16 countries responsible of more than 70% of global GHG emissions participated. This was the first study of this kind to take place in Mexico.

Aims of the study

  • Explore the technical feasibility of reducing Mexico´s GHG emissions to 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 (in accordance with the target set by the General Climate Change Law of 2012 and the international 2°C target).
  • Discuss the nature, scale, and timing of the changes required to achieve this transformation as well as possible challenges and opportunities.
  • Provide inputs and insights for future benchmarks that will be required to evaluate the consistency of policy pathways with the achievement of a 2050 deep decarbonization in a credible and cost-effective manner.
  • Identify the requirements for further more detailed deep-decarbonization analyses to inform future policy and investment decisions


The study set a modeling target of 250 MtCO2 emitted per year in 2050. From there, energy production and consumption in Mexico from 2010 to 2050 was modeled from the backcast interpolation of key indicators related to 4 different sectors:  transport (passenger and freight); electricity generation; industry; and buildings (residential and commercial). To simulate less emission intensive alternatives, the model combined these sectors with different levels of implementation of energy efficiency, electrification and fuel shift, and low-carbon electricity. These alternative-energy scenarios were the object of further analysis with the participation of expert opinions to refine modeling assumptions of current trends, identify potential strategies and the feasibility of transitioning to low-carbon alternatives.
Key findings

Among its key findings, the study highlights the feasibility of deep decarbonization pathways in Mexico under the following assumptions: accelerated increase in energy efficiency uptake across all sectors, rapid development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), zero emission vehicles, energy storage technologies and smart transmission and distribution (smart grids), and system flexibility to promote, adopt, and combine diverse options over the timeframe of decarbonization.


To achieve the goal of 2°C, short, medium, and long-term planning of the energy systems nationwide is suggested. The authors of the study emphasize the need of “implementing an integral vision of energy system decarbonization, and robust sector planning during the period of 2015-2025 to ensure that the 2025-2050 period can be “fully dedicated to the roll-out of any credible decarbonization pathway.”

The substitution of fuels with high carbon content for fossil alternatives with a lower CO2 intensity, like natural gas, isn’t recommended since it implies high investment costs while insufficiently reducing GHG emission. However, natural gas in Mexico is still widely considered as a clean energy alternative, as the Energy Industry Law of 2014 and growing international investment shows.

Since the publication of this study there hasn’t been any visible efforts to implement its findings or recommendations. Nevertheless, some progress was made in March of this year when the authors presented their results to the Senate during a forum called “Achieving the Paris Agreement through decarbonization in Mexico”.

Learn More

Pathways to deep decarbonization in Mexico. Report.

Spanish version of the report (from the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change)

For more countries working on the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP).

YouTube link of the Senate’s Forum “Achieving the Paris Agreement through decarbonization in Mexico” (in Spanish) The study is presented from 1:59:00 but the video includes more presentations from different experts.


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