Mexico sticks to its tradition of taking climate change seriously

Mexico Cuty's picture

In due course before the first informal deadline for countries to announce post-2020 climate goals expired, Mexico become the first developing country to put forward its national contribution for the keenly-awaited conference in Paris this year. In late March Mexico submitted its pledge (namely its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”, or INDC according to the lingo of the UNFCCC negotiations) following earlier submissions from the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland.

As of end-April also the United States, Gabon, Russia, Liechtenstein and Andorra presented their commitments. A second implicit deadline is due by October 1st, after which submissions would not be included in the INDCs synthesis report for COP21 negotiation. Mexico’s early move was applauded by several stakeholders not only for the timing but also for its completeness and for the level of details provided. Representing around 1.5 percent of global emissions, Mexico presented a climate roadmap including two components: one on mitigation and one for adaptation actions, the second one representing an exception among INDCs submitted so far:

Unconditional mitigation pledges:

  • reduction of 22% of GHG emissions (below BAU) by 2030;
  • reduction of 51% of black carbon (below BAU) by 2030;
  • reduction of 40% in emission intensity (below 2013) by 2030;
  • net emissions peak from 2026.

Conditional mitigation pledges:

  • reduction of 36% of GHG emissions (below BAU) by 2030;
  • reduction of 70% of black carbon (below BAU) by 2030.

Adaptation pledges:

  • strengthen the adaptive capacity of at least by 50% the number of municipalities in the category of “most vulnerable”;
  • establish early warning systems and risk management at every level of government;
  • rate of 0% deforestation by 2030.

If a global agreement will be reached, and if it will address “important topics including international carbon price, carbon border adjustments, technical cooperation, access to low-cost financial resources and technology transfer, all at a scale commensurate to the challenge of global climate change”, Mexico will pursue the more demanding emission reduction path. Although it seems unlikely that all the prerequisites mentioned in Mexico’s INDC will be fulfilled by the Paris deal, the conditional specification was praised as a transparent way of clarifying what the country can unilaterally achieve and what with international support. Few days before Mexico submitted its INDC, the President Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama announced a bilateral U.S.-Mexico clean energy and climate policy task force to “deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas including clean electricity, grid modernization, appliance standards, energy efficiency, fuel efficient automobile fleets, global and regional climate modeling, weather forecasting and early alerts system”. Bearing in mind its status of developing country and the relative small contribution to global emissions compared with other countries, Mexico’s pledges confirmed an increasingly active commitment during the last few years.

Share emissions

 Cumulative GHG and Co2 Emissions (% of World Total). Source: WRI (2014).

Under the UNFCCC Copenhagen Accord, Mexico in 2010 announced its goal of reducing emissions by 30 percent below business-as-usual by 2020, subject to “adequate financial and technological support from developed countries as part of a global agreement”. In 2012 the Mexican Congress approved the General Law on Climate Change (Ley General de Cambio Climático, LGCC) which sets a legal framework to regulate both mitigation and adaptation policies. Under this law, Mexico aims to reduce its emissions by 50 percent from 2000 levels by 2050.

Issued in 2013, the Mexican National Strategy for Climate Change (Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climático visión 10-20-40) points out priorities and steps for the next 10, 20 and 40 years in order to achieve the country’s medium and long-term goals. In 2014 the Mexican government introduced a carbon tax of USD 3.5/tCO2e on the use of fossil fuels, excluding natural gas (for more information see Mexico’s country profile). In early 2015 Mexico held a public consultation and a ten-days, web-based survey aimed at integrating non-state stakeholders’ contribution into the INDC, which is planned to be put out for public comment in September. A number of recent analyses indicated the stronger involvement of civil society and non-state actors will be one of the key factor in ensuring inclusiveness and ambition of Mexican climate goals.


This article was first published under ICCG International Climate Policy and Carbon Markets series, issue n.35, accessible in pdf format. 

(Image: Mexico City, the Cathedral. Photo credit: Alejandro Mejía Greene on Flickr)