By Vanessa Perez-Cirera, Director of Climate & Energy Programme, WWF-Mexico
Mexico has been very clear about its commitment to addressing global climate change – from the ambitious conditional commitments for 2020 and 2050 made at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, then hosting a successful UN climate conference in Cancun in 2010, and passing a landmark General Law on Climate Change, the first of its kind in the developing world.
But there are substantial challenges to be overcome. Even though renewable energy has been an important part of the country’s energy diversification for over a decade, 75% of Mexico’s power generation still relies on fossil fuels.
With falling gas prices, there’s been a marked trend towards expanding gas-fired power plants. An energy reform has just been just approved, and there is potential for increasing investment in renewable energy and associated infrastructure.
So Mexico is at a crossroads. The analogy we'd make is ‘saddling the horse’ – we’re on the move, but will we head in the right direction?
Billions of US dollars will be coming into the country in energy investments. If Mexico doesn’t make the right call and invest in renewable energy technology and infrastructure, it may well get locked into a fossil fuel future.
MEXICO HAS AN ASPIRATIONAL 2020 GOAL TO REDUCE ITS GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY 30% BELOW ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ LEVELS.
So what has Mexico done so far that can help other countries in terms of pre-2020 action?
1) Mexico has put an aspirational 2020 goal into national legislation, aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below ‘business as usual’ levels.
2) It has approved an unconditional five-year multi-sectoral programme, funded by national resources, to meet one third of the 2020 goal (90 million tonnes of CO2).
Examples of actions include:
• reducing gas flaring by Pemex (Mexico’s huge state-owned petroleum company)
• changing lighting technologies
• promoting renewable energy
• increasing co-generation in the private sector.
3) In 2012 Mexico published a ‘Special Program for the Use of Renewable Energy’, which commits to increasing the amount of electricity sourced from renewable energy to 25% by 2018 (up from 15% in 2012).
Given the increase in overall energy demand, this implies doubling renewables generation in a six-year period (very ambitious), and in the process cutting 18 million tonnes of CO2.
4) Mexico has identified economically competitive ways for the private sector to contribute more to national efforts, which would account for about 40 million tonnes of CO2.
The measures would need an up-front investment of US$18 billion from the private sector, but predict a net economic benefit of more than US$20 billion by 2020.
5) Mexico is ready to implement REDD+, the UN-led programme for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which helps puts a financial value on unfelled forests and low-carbon alternatives.
MEXICO MUST URGENTLY ENFORCE AN ENERGY TRANSITION POLICY THAT SETS THE COUNTRY’S DECARBONIZATION VISION.
What else can Mexico do in the immediate term to increase ambition for the future – to ‘saddle the horse’ properly?
Mexico must urgently enforce an energy transition policy that sets the country’s decarbonization vision and course for 2050, and guides current infrastructure investments in that direction.
Mexico should set its own ambitious targets for 2025 and 2030 (its ‘INDC’), in line with its national legislation. But crucially it should also clarify which proportion of its greenhouse gas reduction commitments are conditional on international funding and technology transfer, and which are unconditional and can be taken-up nationally.
This would also show other countries and funders that Mexico’s ambition and co-responsibility is in line with its progressive position in climate negotiations.