Mexico faces the biggest lift—in areas ranging from investment to political culture—in order to reap the fullest benefits from the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan agreed to last week by the three NAFTA leaders meeting in Ottawa.
Mexico has had a climate change law in place since 2012, with a goal of generating 35% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024. Last week’s agreement raises that target to 50%, and provides just one additional year to achieve it. The country is also developing a carbon cap-and-trade system, and has mused about joining the same Western Climate Initiative that includes California and has enrolled both Ontario and Quebec.
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Adding to the challenge of those changes, however, are reforms to Mexico’s petroleum and electricity sectors that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spearheaded in 2013. Both had previously been in the hands of state monopolies, and state enterprises still dominate them. While the reforms were intended to attract new foreign investment and technology into a moribund sector, they “will make regulating the energy sector more complex,” according to an analysis in Science.
“You used to have two actors, Pemex [the state oil company] and the Federal Electricity Commission [CFE],” explained Nature Conservancy Mexico energy expert Juan Bezaury-Creel. “Now, you’re going to have a multitude of actors. Enforcement is going to have to be upgraded.”
And that, as many Mexicans will admit, has not been a national strong suit. “We’re a country that is always ratifying international treaties and legislating national laws,” remarked Gustavo Alanís-Ortega, president of the Mexican Center for Environmental Rights, “but then the implementation is very poor.”
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