Mexico announces ambitious emission reduction target in lead up to Paris

Earlier today, Mexico announced an ambitious new commitment to peak its greenhouse emissions in 2026 and reduce them by 22% by 2030. With this announcement, Mexico becomes the first developing country and emerging economy to act on the Lima Call for Climate Action - the global agreement reached in Peru this past December that the time has come for all countries to take concrete action to reduce their global warming pollution.

With the announcement of its "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions " (INDC), Mexico has once more shown climate leadership at the international level. So far only Switzerland, Norway and the European Union have submitted their climate commitments for the post 2020 period. At the same time, Mexico joined the US in announcing a new high-level bilateral clean energy and climate policy task force. Through this new effort the two countries will work to together to harmonize policies on clean energy, grid modernization, appliance standards, and energy efficiency and efficient vehicles.

Mexico's full document is available at this link and here's a few key take ways:

  • For the first time ever Mexico set an unconditional emissions reduction target. Under the INDC, Mexico will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% below business as usual levels and reduce its black carbon emissions by 51% by 2030. Together this represents a 25% reduction of overall emissions.
  • To achieve this emission reduction commitment, Mexico expects its net emissions will peak in 2026.
  • The overall 25% reduction could increase up to a (conditional) 40% if a global agreement is reached that addresses key issues like carbon pricing, technical cooperation and access to financial resources and technology.
  • The emission reductions will come from the Energy, Industrial, and Agriculture, Waste and Land-use and Forestry sectors and will be based on a baseline year of 2013.
  • Mexico's INDC also includes a climate adaptation component to increase the resilience of key infrastructure and ecosystems - an important element for a country as highly vulnerable as Mexico. Under the adaptation INDC, Mexico will work to strengthen the adaptive capacity of at least 50% of its most vulnerable municipalities through early warning and risk management systems and by reducing the rate of deforestation to 0% by 2030

Mexico's commitment is a positive step forward and should encourage other countries to move forward and announce their own climate actions in a timely fashion. As NRDC President Rhea Suh notes:

"Mexico has made an ambitious and important commitment in the fight against global warming. Its pledge to make meaningful cuts in dangerous carbon pollution sends a signal that will help secure a global climate protection agreement in Paris this year. We are confident that Mexico can meet or exceed these targets and we look forward to helping Mexico deliver on its clean energy potential."

This is not the first time that Mexico has indicated its willingness to take action to address climate change. In 2012, Mexico became the first developing country to pass a General Climate Change Law, positioning itself as a progressive leader in the region and the world. The law set a clean energy generation target of 35% by 2024 and established a non-binding, economy-wide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050. Over the years they have also developed a robust institutional framework on climate change. More recently Mexico passed a carbon tax of approximately $US 3.5/tCO2e that applies to fossil fuels based on their carbon content (excluding natural gas, however).

By announcing its INDC early in the year, Mexico has once more shown it's ready to be a leader on international climate action. However, it will now be critical for this new international commitment to be reflected in real action and enabling policies in Mexico - especially in the energy sector. It's notable - and in fact disappointing - that for the energy sector, the INDC document only highlights the source of emissions (fuel combustion and fugitive emission from fuels), without laying out a clear plan for how Mexico intends to shift its energy matrix - both for transportation and energy production - away from a reliance on fossil fuels. Importantly what's still missing is clarity on how Mexico will boost renewable energy generation which should be a key component of cleaning up its overall energy mix. Mexico's historic energy reform is an opportunity to grow the renewables sector, but the focus has still primarily been on fossil fuels. There needs to be a clear and direct alignment between Mexico's international climate commitments and the energy sector's policy framework.

The good news is that by coming in early with this ambitious commitment Mexico can now focus on working with relevant civil society and other relevant stakeholders in a collaborative and transparent manner to ensure these new targets are met, Mexico's ecosystems are protected, and local communities have a real voice in the decisions that affect them. There is so much talent and promise in Mexico that this can most certainly be done.