Mexico, a global climate change leader

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by Bernadette Hobson, Fall 2016 Fellow This piece has been cross-posted from The Hill.

The recent ratification of Mexico’s Paris accord symbolizes its emergence as a leader among developing nations, but also a global leader and active participant in the development and implementation of international agreements to mitigate climate change. It also demonstrates Mexico’s position as a key partner in the advancement of North American energy integration, by proposing and committing to climate goals similar to the U.S. and Canada. Mexico’s ascent as a global leader to mitigate climate change challenges the narrowly held perception that it is a country impacted by drug cartels and violence – and, most recently a state filled with “drug dealers and rapists.”

Within the UNFCCC, Mexico is considered a leading voice among developing countries while also occupying membership to the OECD. In this unique space, Mexico draws on its position to help build consensus between developed and developing countries (Brookings). In 2008, Mexico submitted a proposal for a World Climate Fund that resulted in the “Green Climate Fund” (GCF), which was signed at COP16 in Cancun in 2010 (Brookings).

It was also among the first countries in Latin America to pledge funds to the GCF (Brookings). In 2010, Mexico hosted COP16 in Cancun where it was responsible for saving multilateral climate discussions following the recalcitrant negotiations from 2009 in Copenhagen (Brookings). Additionally, despite its heavy reliance on oil exports, Mexico was the first to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (Brookings).

Therefore, the ratification of its Paris accord reaffirms the country’s leaders are committed to protecting its citizens and its economy from the impacts of climate change. It means that Mexico’s INDCs are no longer “intended,” but rather formal goals that will need to be achieved as part of the Paris Agreement.

With the ratification of its Paris accord, Mexico will work to better the adaptive capacity of 160 of its most vulnerable communities, increase the resilience of strategic infrastructure of the country and its ecosystems, achieve a rate of 0% deforestation, and disengage economic growth from the emission of greenhouse gases (Mario Molina Institute).

Given this, Mexico should engage with its U.S. colleagues at NOAA to develop and implement the early warning systems needed to protect its most vulnerable communities from extreme weather conditions. By collaborating with NOAA, Mexico will enhance adaptation capabilities to help reduce the impact of climate change on its most vulnerable communities. This will also assist Mexico in developing methods for data collection and technological analysis to measure the economic impact of extreme weather. This collaboration is critical to the harmonization of policy and regulatory standards to expand trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

Building on the recent North American goal to reduce methane emissions by 40-45% by 2025, Mexico should make additional advances in reducing the methane emissions by working with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to build a database on offshore platform emissions similar to the one used in the U.S. to understand Mexico’s offshore emissions, and engage with the U.S. Gulfwide Offshore Activity Data System (GOADS) to develop detailed data on emissions by equipment and platform type, as well as distinguishing between shallow and deep water operations. This collaboration will expand energy trade between the U.S. and Mexico, drive economic growth, strengthen energy security, and bring broader development benefits to the region.

With its commitment to achieving climate goals, Mexico will require vast investment in the development of its renewable energy sector and innovative approaches to create and implement policy solutions for success. By achieving these goals, Mexico will strengthen its position as a global climate leader, and become a driving force, and formidable partner in the advancement of North American regional energy integration.

Bernadette Hobson is a fellow with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute. She also works for the U.S. Government and is a former U.S. Department of Energy Scholars Program Fellow.
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