Mexico: The 2021 Climate Year in Review

Mexico: The 2021 Climate Year in Review


  • Mexico’s Most Recent NDC Pledge
  • A Roadmap for Implementing the new NDC Pledge
  • A New Emissions Trading System



This post describes game-changing events that effected the level of greenhouse gas emissions in Mexico in 2021.

Mexico was the first developing country to enact a General Law on Climate Change, which acknowledges the public sector’s and society’s shared responsibility in combating this global phenomenon. The legislation advances the right to a healthy environment as a human right, as recognized by Mexico’s Political Constitution. In addition, the country also considers the effect of multi-sectoral concerns on climate, such as the circular economy, electromobility, blue carbon, refrigerants (HFCs), methane emission reduction policy, energy efficiency, and distributed generation.

Mexico’s last NDC update addressed the following five dimensions of climate change adaptation in Mexico: 1) Preventing and responding to detrimental effects on people and the environment, 2) Food security and resilient, productive systems, 3) Conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, 4) Integrated water resource management with a climate change strategy, 5) Strategic infrastructure and visible cultural heritage protection, and 27 other action items. Also, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT in Spanish) will create a roadmap with goals, mechanisms, costs, identification of responsible parties, indicators for adequate follow-up, and a financing strategy for its implementation. The roadmap shall involve subnational entities and the collaboration with government, academia, and civil society.

In addition, Mexico is supporting an emissions trading system (ETS), a market-based instrument that can reduce GHG emissions. An ETS is an environmental strategy that aims to decrease air pollution effectively by imposing emission limits, providing polluters with several permits compatible with those limitations, and allowing them to purchase and sell those allowances. In 2019, Mexico published the preliminary basis for an ETS Program as a level market instrument to reduce GHG emissions. However, based on the cap-and-trade principle, the government imposed a maximum limit or cap on the total emissions of one or more sectors of the economy. As a result, some companies in these sectors held a permit for each ton of GHG emissions emitted.

Due to these game-changing events, Mexico’s CO2 emissions are falling. In 2020, Mexico’s CO2 emissions were 407,695 megatons, 79,875 megatons lower than in 2019, a reduction of 16.38 %. Moreover, Mexico’s CO2 emissions per capita fell to 3.05 tons per inhabitant in 2020.

However, this trend could change soon in Mexico. The country is regressing on climate issues after years of development and leadership. Its lack of ambition displays apathy about the climate catastrophe and its consequences affecting the human rights of the most vulnerable populations.

The NDC is one of the planning instruments of Mexico’s National Climate Change Policy, according to the General Law on Climate Change (LGCC) (Article 58). It also defines that it must adhere to several principles, including progressivity, which states that the set goals must be progressive and incremental over time (Article 26, section XIII).

Mexico’s most recent Paris Agreement pledge was made in 2020, while the country-ratified pledges were made in 2015. These included a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 51% decrease in black carbon emissions by 2030. Furthermore, by 2024, clean energy sources will account for 35% of total power generation, rising to 43% by 2030. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the mechanism by which countries that signed the Paris Agreement achieve the global pact’s goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

While facing the climate issue, each country’s NDC specifies its national mitigation and adaptation commitments, including emission reduction initiatives. Mexico’s NDC, on the other hand, falls short of the level of ambition needed by the Paris Agreement and the LGCC. It is because Mexico’s climate obligations have not been updated to meet the Paris Agreement’s level of ambition. Furthermore, Mexico disobeys the LGCC’s progressivity criterion, as the targets set for the 2015 NDC do not represent a gradual development.

Mexico must accept its share of responsibility, which comes with being one of the world’s top 20 emitters. In addition, the country must make mitigation and adaptation pledges consistent with the global goal of preventing catastrophic effects of global warming.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Mexico Country Manager Pablo David Necoechea Porras


Climate change is real, and what governments do matters.

Help us work with key stakeholders globally to ensure continued support of the The Paris Agreement.