Spotlight Activity: Mexico Policy Recommendations
As a signing part of the Paris Agreement, Mexico committed to revising its NDC every 5 years. The first review period will take place in 2020, thus, the country must work to enhance its contribution in order to be on track with the global goal of limiting the increase of temperature below 2°C (now 1.5°C).
The NDCs revisions are not limited to increasing ambition, but can also include strengthening transparency, appointing responsible institutions, assigning budget or working on specific policy pathways. However, it is paramount for Mexico to raise its ambition, as it is currently not on track with achieving its long-term target of reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2050.
Mexico is already experiencing the effects of climate change: the delayed rains and extended warm days early this year factored in the many fires surrounding Mexico City, which greatly contributed to an air quality crisis that lasted nearly a week. The country has also experienced an increase of intensity and frequency of other extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts. For this, and many more reasons, climate change mitigation and adaptation ought to be a national priority.
Aligning with the below 2°C target is in Mexico’s best interest, as its population, economy, and ecosystems could be severely impacted by a temperature increase above 2°C. Moreover, several studies have pointed at how extreme weather events and loss of ecosystem services (some of the many effects of climate change) have a greater impact on low-income groups, thus increasing inequality and worsening conditions for the vulnerable. This is of particular interest for the current administration, which has a strong social focus.
Mexico’s NDC includes reductions in GHG emissions and black carbon, a short-lived pollutant. Moreover, following the COP21 in 2015, the country introduced its Energy Transition Law, which includes the clean energy targets of 25% of electricity generation by 2018 and 35% by 2024. Although Mexico has undertaken meaningful policy-making and institution-building around climate change, it will need additional policies to meet its NDC pledges, which, as of today, fall short on the mitigation required to reach the emission level needed to attain the 1.5C warming ceiling. In fact, if the current conditional Mexican NDC is achieved, the efforts would be compatible with a 3°C scenario.
Nevertheless, the country has all the necessary tools to face the actual climate emergency. Mexico has a strong institutional system, technical capacity, and useful research and information for decision makers. If this is enhanced and coordinated with other efforts, the country could achieve the level of GHG mitigation required to meet Paris goals whilst also contributing to the economy, population wellbeing, and ecosystem health.
There are plenty of options for effective climate action, two of them are listed below:
- Reinforcing and Improving the National Carbon Tax
A carbon tax establishes a price on carbon emissions through assigning a cost on the CO2 contained on fossil fuels. In the 2014 tax reform, the Mexican government approved a carbon tax. However, its effect has been limited, as it excludes natural gas and turbosine and the use of the collected resources is not entirely transparent. Moreover, the rates are too low: in 2017, the tax had a value of 2.30 USD /tCO2.
Refining and enhancing this tool could greatly contribute to emission reduction efforts and tax collection. Furthermore, it can aid in the control of pollution, encourage technological innovation, and allow for flexibility in emission reduction. Necessary improvements include ensuring that all fossil fuels are covered and increasing the tax linearly over time, aiming at a range of $ 40-80 / tCO2e by 2020 and $ 50-100 / tCO2 by 2030, according to The High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices.
The implementation of the carbon tax should be progressive, lessening the burden on lower-income sectors. Furthermore, tax revenue should be invested in low-carbon technologies, innovation, and the implementation of climate policies.
- Investing in and Stabilizing Policies for Efficient Transportation Systems
The transport sector in Mexico is the second biggest emitter of CO2, with a contribution of 26% of the national total and auto transportation covering 23% of that total. Most of the emissions of this sector come from private vehicles, which have been boosted with urban expansion.
The increase of the private vehicle fleet has brought big problems regarding inefficient mobility, bigger emissions, and appalling air quality. However, the Mexican government has invested most of the sector’s federal resources (75%) in road infrastructure, such as new highways and roads, that benefit mostly private vehicles, while only 23% is invested in public transport or cyclist and pedestrian infrastructure.
There is a real necessity to invest in public transport and have policies that consider integrated transport systems attending the demand of travels, mainly in cities. Integrated systems must consider strategies to promote the use of public transport instead of private cars through more efficient ways of massive transport, connected with other non-motorized transport ways, such as walking and bike paths, along with the implementation of bike sharing systems.
Mexico City has already established a good bike sharing system, with which 232 tons of CO2e were avoided from 2010-2012, and, according to the Climate Initiative of Mexico (ICM), the transport emissions could even reach a reduction of 37 million tons of CO2e per year by 2030 if the right strategies and plans are implemented.
Activity Rating **** Moving Forward
Mexico has all the requirements to meet its climate goals and to increase its ambition to be on track with Paris Agreement targets. The proposed policies are aimed to cut emissions in the most pollutant sectors. They should be doable, as the country counts with suitable technical and financial resources and there are already success cases, such as the bike sharing system “Ecobici” in Mexico City.
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
We recommend that Mexico’s government, along with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, update the national greenhouse gas emissions pledge to the Paris Agreement before November 2030. The updated pledge should be aimed to be on track with the global temperature increase below 1.5°C.
We recommend that Mexico implements and strengthens the following policies in order to reach this target: Reinforcing and improving the national carbon tax; and investing in and establishing policies for efficient public transport systems.
These policies will not only help Mexico to reduce its GHG emissions, but they would bring co-benefits like better air quality and public health, while saving money and improving people’s life quality through sustainable mobility, shorter travel times, and road safety.
Send Action Alert Message to:
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources- Victor Manuel Toledo
Telephone: 54900900 Ext. 12000/12076/12001
Address: Ejercito Nacional 223,
Col. Anáhuac, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo,
Ciudad de México, México,