Spotlight Activity: Mexico’s New Development Agenda Creates Climate Opportunities and Risks
Mexico made headlines when it became the first developing country to submit its National Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC, with an unconditional reduction goal of 22percent in GHG and 51percent of black carbon by 2030 and conditional targets of 36percent and 70percent, respectively, setting a track record for decisive climate action. As a signing party of the Paris Agreement, Mexico must increase its goals’ ambition, working under a progressive principle. The country is undergoing a transition to a new federal government, whose proposed development agenda, focused in social justice and poverty reduction, has the potential to strengthen and increase Mexico’s climate actions. Working in sustainability and development, as a whole, could bring important solutions and results in both in the social and environmental sectors.
Even though the new government’s environmental policy proposal accounts for climate change and ensures mitigation and adaptation goals will be achieved, certain commitments and proposals could hamper the realization of climate targets if they are not well-monitored, advised and key actors are not consulted.
- The National Plan for the Production of Hydrocarbons which contemplates the “rescuing” of PEMEX (The National Oil Company) through investing in the reconditioning and building of refineries and increasing oil exploration, with the promise of freezing fuel prices.This plan aims to achieve national energy security through the exploitation and use of fossil fuels. These could jeopardize the realization of the national 35percent renewable energy target by 2022. It is necessary to insist on the importance of reductions in methane, oil, and gas consumption, and on the investment in clean energies and technologies.
- The building of an interstate train in the Yucatán peninsula. As of today, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment documents have not been released, nor has the exact train route. However, preliminary drafts suggest the crossing through National Parks and Biosphere Reserves. This could trigger the deforestation of important vegetation patches and the fragmentation of unique habitats. Considering land use change is a major contributor to GHG emissions, these threats cannot be overlooked during planning.
- The planting of a million hectares of fruit and timber trees in the South-Southeast regions of the country. Although in the proposal states, only paddocks and degraded lands will be targeted, a rigorous monitoring mechanism must be put in place to ensure no native vegetation is substituted by plantations, as the opportunity cost of conservation is greatly raised by the promise of payment for participating in the scheme.
Mexico is still far from meeting its GHG reduction commitments. It is necessary to take effective actions and increase the transparency in the new projects and proposals, as these could have unintended negative consequences. If social justice and poverty alleviation are to be achieved, the new administration must make mitigation and adaptation targets a priority, as climate change disproportionately affects low-income groups and exacerbates existing inequalities.
Status: Standing Still
These strategic projects have the potential to increase regional and national development and contribute to the achievement of Mexico’s climate goals. However, they require substantial efforts, as well as meticulous environmental, economic and social research to succeed. Moreover, an effective coordination between government, institutions, civil society and key actors is also crucial for success. Otherwise, these projects could be a counterweight against the country’s climate action and its national and international commitments.
Please send the following message to the policymaker below:
We applaud the new government’s efforts to develop comprehensive programs and projects that aim to benefit social and economic development while contributing to climate action. However, we are concerned that the projects could affect regional ecosystems and dramatically increase the country’s GHG emissions. Therefore, we ask the new government to consider all actors, create partnerships with academia and civil society, and to carry out rigorous monitoring in order to ensure that the projects and programs are consistent with national climate goals and commitments.
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources- Josefa González Blanco
Telephone: 54900900 Ext. 12000/12076/12001
Address: Ejercito Nacional 223,
Col. Anáhuac, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo,
Ciudad de México, México,
Welfare Secretary- María Luisa Albores
Telephone: 5328 5000
Address: Av. Paseo de la Reforma 116,
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México. C.P. 06600
Secretary of Energy- Rocío Nahle
Address: Insurgentes Sur 890,
Del Valle, Ciudad de México. C.P. 03100
National Comission for Protected Natural Areas- Alejandro del Mazo Maza
See “Mexico’s National Determined Contribution”: https://www.gob.mx/cms/uploads/attachment/file/162974/2015_indc_esp.pdf?
“Mexico’s Climate Change Mid-Century Strategy”: https://unfccc.int/files/focus/long-term_strategies/application/pdf/mexico_mcs_final_cop22nov16_red.pdf?
For a more comprehensive view of the Mexico new government’s environmental agenda see: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wtqDgsYrhY6wIxVo3nRz4ou7qK1JPEOj/view
To know more about the referred projects:
National Plan for the Production of Hydrocarbons: https://www.gob.mx/sener/articulos/presentacion-del-plan-nacional-para-la-produccion-de-hidrocarburos?idiom=es
Interstate train (Tren Maya): https://www.tren-maya.mx/
Refineries investment: https://lopezobrador.org.mx/temas/refineria/
Fruit and timber plantations (Sembrando Vida): http://sembrandovida.mx/