Only two years have passed since Mexico hosted the United Nation’s 2010 edition of the Climate Change Conference, COP 16, in Cancun, where most of the delegates left the conference in a breezy mood, feeling like the world had at least taken a modest step forward. However, recent events make it seem like Mexico has moved at the speed of light since the conference with regard to its national environmental policy.
Last week, Mexico took its place among environmental world leaders like the United Kingdom and the European Union by welcoming the introduction of its General Law on Climate Change. This new legislation has the potential to pave the way for alternative energy in the country and create a stable platform where the energy transition to renewable sources becomes a higher priority on the national agenda.
This climate law is quite unique, only the second of its kind in the world, taking into account the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act. It is based on the premise of Mexico adopting renewable energy resources, becoming more sustainable and controlling its ecological footprint without halting the country’s economic development.
Currently, Mexico is the world’s 11th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases as well as the world’s 11th biggest economy. However, by 2050, the country is projected to become the fifth largest economy in the world and this will require great investments in development that will have to take sustainability into account in order to balance out the national and global rapidly growing population.
Mexico’s General Law on Climate Change passed with a 128-10 vote in the country’s House of Representatives and a staggering 78-0 vote in the Senate, indicating that even in an election year, all political parties shared ideals and found a common ground on the issue. Now, all that is missing is a signature from President Felipe Calderón which is expected next week.
The new legislation seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2050, based on levels from the year 2000. It will also ensure that 35% of Mexico’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2024 and dirty carbon emissions are cut 30% by 2020. Mexico’s General Law on Climate Change will also establish incentives developed by the Energy and Finance Ministries that will help promote alternative energy, and it will establish a commission, the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático – INECC) to oversee climate change and energy policies from the current and future administrations.
In addition, the law will require mandatory emissions report for the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Mexico, in order to adequately manage the country’s emissions, and will support the development of a domestic emission trading system that could lead to companies increasing renewable energy, buying credits or paying a penalty for emissions.
With a law this grand lying on the horizon, Mexico’s renewable energy future is in closer reach than ever before. When Mexico’s General Law on Climate Change becomes a reality, the government will begin to create incentives for future investment in the country’s renewable energy sector that will push Mexico towards a green future, in both economic and environmental terms.