Mexico provides additional detail on mitigation plans for post-2020 emission reductions

Following up on the late March announcement of its post-2020 emissions reduction commitment, Mexico has now provided a bit more detail on how it aims to achieve its goal of reducing 22% of greenhouse gas emissions and 51% of black carbon emissions by 2030. In a press conference on Tuesday, Environment Minister Juan José Guerra Abud spoke about some of the policies the government is working on to meet the climate change mitigation goals Mexico presented as part of its "Intended Nationally Determined Contribution" (INDC). You can watch a video from the event here and see a slightly more detailed presentation than what circulated last week here.

Here's a quick recap of what we now know about how Mexico aims to reduce emission from the industrial, transportation, urban, and agriculture and forestry sectors:

  • Industry sector. According to the INDC presentation, this sector is currently the source of approximately 141 MtCO2e (roughly 20% percent of Mexico's greenhouse gas emissions). To reduce emissions from this sector, by 2024 Mexico will aim to produce 35% of its energy with "clean energy"** sources (this is its existing target under the General Law on Climate Change), and by 2030 this would increase to 43%. Emissions would also be reduced by substituting heavy fuels with natural gas and biomass in industry. There would also be a reduction of 25% in all leaks, venting, and burning of methane; and soot particulates from industrial equipment and facilities would be controlled.
  • Transportation sector: Mexico is already working with the US and Canada to harmonize regulations for existing and new vehicles. The country will also work to increase the availability of ultra-low sulfur fuels and increase the number of vehicles that use natural gas and cleaner fuels. Secretary Guerra Abud noted that a particular goal is to have at least one million natural gas vehicles on the road by the end of the current presidential administration. In addition, Mexico aims to modernize the vehicle fleet by reducing the import of used vehicles.
  • Urban sector: To meet the INDC target, Mexico will work toward making cities and buildings more sustainable. In particular it will promote residential use of solar heaters and panels. Mexico will also address methane recovery at municipal dumps and treatment of residual water.
  • Agriculture and forestry sector: Mexico aims to "sustainably modernize" rural areas, achieve zero deforestation, restore ecosystems and use biodigesters in farms.

When Mexico first submitted its INDC on March 27, I wrote here (and in Spanish here) how going forward we hoped to see more detail about how the country would meet the new emission mitigation targets. This additional information is helpful. It's encouraging to see that Mexico will also look at the urban sector in addition to reducing transportation, industrial and agriculture/forestry emissions. Latin America is the most urbanized region in the world, making it critical for countries to identify low-carbon, solutions for their growing cities. Two of the examples Mexico identifies to reduce emissions (from waste and waste water) highlight that low carbon-solutions can also help meet development goals.

We hope this additional information will just be the start and Mexico will continue to clarify how it will meet its emission reduction targets. It will also be important to see how these and other emission reduction commitments are reflected in the country's new energy market. As I noted in my last blog, Mexico needs to lay out a clear plan for boosting electricity generation from resources like solar, wind and geothermal as part of the country's broader clean energy goals. As Secretary Guerra Abud explained, Mexico's "clean energy" targets include not only renewable energy, but also natural gas cogeneration and thermal electric plants with carbon capture. As Mexico works toward its 35% clean energy by 2024 goal it should ensure that a significant component of this comes from truly clean energy sources, that is, non-conventional renewable energy.

One needed step to start transitioning away from an ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is enactment of the Energy Transition Law which is currently still pending approval in the Senate. This proposed law would set out a framework for clean energy, energy efficiency and transmission grid modernization. The proposed law also includes milestones for boosting clean energy generation. Another step will be to ensure that the market rules of the new energy market help spur the development renewable energy projects. Although the ongoing energy reform process includes clean energy certificates, at the moment it still remains unclear how those certificates will actually impact renewable energy projects. Mexico has continually shown significant international climate leadership and as we move closer to Paris later this year it will critical to continue to see how its mitigation targets will be reflected and implemented through national policies.

**Under the current Electric Industry Law, "clean energy" includes non-conventional renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean power; and also power from waste, biomass, hydrogen, large-hydro, nuclear, efficient co-generation, thermal plants with carbon capture and storage