Mexico’s Tightrope Walk: Bridging the Gaps Between Between Development and Climate Action

Mexico was one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016, demonstrating its commitment to combating climate change. Mexico depends on fossil fuels for its energy matrix, and the country has not significantly updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) since 2015. Mexico has good renewable resources; However, the current Mexican government has no genuine desire to accelerate its climate agenda. Mexico’s NDC outlines its plan to reach its climate goals in the Paris Agreement. The NDC includes targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

Mexico’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and its development objectives create a complex tightrope walk. While both goals are crucial, inherent conflicts exist between specific development needs and vital climate mitigation policies. Recognizing these conflicts and finding solutions is critical for a sustainable future.

Development Objectives vs. Emissions Reduction:

  • Energy Access: Expanding affordable and reliable energy, especially in rural areas, often relies on fossil fuels like natural gas. Transitioning to renewables is crucial, but upfront costs and grid limitations pose challenges.
  • Food Security: Supporting agricultural productivity often involves practices with high emissions, such as fertilizer use and intensive farming. Ensuring food security for an exponentially growing population while curbing emissions necessitates adopting sustainable agricultural solutions.
  • Economic Growth: Mexico’s economy heavily depends on fossil fuels, and transitioning away could lead to job losses and economic disruption. Balancing this with “green growth” that creates new jobs in sustainable sectors is critical.
  • Poverty Reduction: Lifting people out of poverty usually involves increased energy consumption and resource use. Addressing poverty while promoting low-carbon lifestyles and resource efficiency necessitates targeted social programs and inclusive climate action.

Specific Development Challenges Hindering Climate Action:

  • Energy Subsidies: Heavy subsidies for fossil fuels discourage investment in renewables and create an uneven playing field. Phasing out these subsidies while ensuring an affordable transition for consumers is crucial.
  • Infrastructure Gap: The lack of robust renewable energy infrastructure and efficient public transportation systems limits the effectiveness of large-scale emissions reduction strategies.
  • Limited Investment: Insufficient public and private investment in clean technologies and climate-resilient infrastructure hampers progress. Mobilizing resources through innovative financing mechanisms is essential.
  • Governance and Capacity: Strengthening institutional frameworks, building technical expertise, and fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration are crucial for effective policy implementation and enforcement.

Beyond the Obvious:

  • Informal Sector: Addressing the emissions and development challenges specific to the informal sector, which employs a significant portion of the population, is crucial.
  • Social Safety Nets: Implementing robust social safety nets to support vulnerable populations during the transition is essential for ensuring a just and equitable shift.
  • Land Use Change: Addressing deforestation and unsustainable land use practices that contribute significantly to emissions requires collaborative solutions considering community livelihoods and cultural practices.

Strengthening Climate Policies While Addressing Development Needs:

  • Targeted Investments: Prioritize investments in renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, sustainable agriculture, and climate-smart infrastructure in collaboration with local communities.
  • Carbon Pricing: Explore implementing carbon pricing mechanisms like carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes, ensuring social equity and using the revenue to support the transition and vulnerable populations.
  • Technological Innovation: Foster research and development in clean technologies, adaptation strategies, and nature-based solutions tailored to Mexico’s context.
  • Inclusive Climate Action: Design and implement climate policies that consider the needs and perspectives of marginalized communities, ensuring a just and equitable transition.
  • International Cooperation: Collaborate with developed nations on technology transfer, financial assistance, and capacity building to accelerate progress towards climate goals.

Additional Recommendations:

  • Education and Awareness: Foster public awareness and education about climate change and sustainable practices to encourage behavior change and support policy implementation.
  • Decentralization: Empower local communities to participate in developing and implementing climate solutions aligned with their specific needs and context.
  • Performance-Based Incentives: Develop performance-based incentives for businesses and industries to encourage the adoption of clean technologies and sustainable practices.


Balancing development and climate action in Mexico requires a multi-pronged approach that tackles specific challenges, leverages innovative solutions, and prioritizes equity and inclusion. By bridging the gap between development and climate objectives, Mexico can pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future for all its citizens.

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


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