Mexico Puts US To Shame On Climate Action, But New President's Pledge On Oil Industry Is Worrying

Mexico Puts US To Shame On Climate Action, But New President's Pledge On Oil Industry Is Worrying Shutterstock

As if there was any doubt, the UN’s latest report on climate change makes clear this is one of the most pressing issues of our times. And as we witness Extinction Rebellion stirring the pot of protest in the UK, that movement is connected to the geopolitical experience of other countries in important ways.

This is certainly the case where Mexico is concerned, a country that has been rightly held up as a major leader on climate change in the developing world, while putting the US government to shame over its own inaction. The Paris Agreement is a crucial UN-led international arrangement that intensifies global climate decarbonisation and adaptation measures, yet the Trump administration has indicated its intention to pull out.

Mexico has taken direct inspiration from the UK’s Climate Change Act, which requires a 34% reduction in national greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (measured at 1990 emissions levels). In early June the UK government pledged a new commitment of “net zero” by 2050.

Seeking to follow the UK, Mexico put its own equivalent General Law on Climate Change in place in 2012 with advice and support from British experts. The UK is now recognised as the pioneer of this type of framework approach to climate change in the developed world, with Mexico as the equivalent torchbearer in the developing world.

Mexican politics

But things are running far from smoothly in Mexico at present. The country’s recent election of “strongman” president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has significantly hampered the General Law’s implementation. Since taking office in December 2018, the leftist populist has swung his attention and sympathies towards Mexico’s powerful fossil fuel lobby, supported in turn by other powerful lobbies including cement and steel.

Planning to restore the national oil company Pemex to its glory days after the previous administration opened it up to the private sector, Obrador said recently: “We are going to rescue this industry that is so important for the country’s development.” As one of the country’s biggest employers, this has gone down well with many Mexicans. But this also means the future stability of Mexico’s celebrated low-carbon transition has been cast into serious doubt.

Admittedly, the General Law was rocked and buffeted by heavy political winds since its first inception under the presidency of Felipe Calderón. Calderón’s six-year term, which ended in November 2012, was far from smooth, given the damaging impact of economic recession and disquiet around his alleged suppression of the press. But the Calderón administration did succeed in elevating climate change to a position of serious importance on the Mexican policy agenda, bolstered by substantial support from the UK.

Just as the General Law was bedding in, Calderón was replaced by President Enrique Peña Nieto. Beset by accusations of corruption, Nieto’s administration displayed scant regard for climate concerns, and was able to leverage one of the General Law’s great deficiencies to create a culture of climate inertia – a gaping chasm between the law itself and its implementation. In other words, the law was prescribed but the specific policies needed to achieve lower carbon emissions were not.

Mexico Puts US To Shame On Climate Action, But New President's Pledge On Oil Industry Is Worrying Mexico’s national oil company Pemex is one of the country’s biggest employers. Shutterstock

Enter the recently elected President Obrador, who is presently extending this troubling gap between law and action. The Mexican government has long had an I-say-you-do tendency that emanates from the presidential office downward – a tradition strengthened by this recent election. Mexican presidential administrations run for six-year terms (they are non-renewable), and the current president is only getting warmed up.

Of course, in terms of broader UK/Mexico dynamics, things are far from perfect on the UK side. For starters, the UK government has now agreed to up its 2050 reduction target for emissions to net zero, but this could prove difficult to achieve in practice, and some pressure groups including Extinction Rebellion are pushing for a net zero economy by 2025.

Positive example

Admittedly, Mexico’s General Law lacks stringent UK-style reduction targets altogether, instead rolling some soft aspirational targets into an annex to the legal text. But Mexico is a poorer developing country that is not historically responsible for emissions release to the same extent that the highly industrialised developed world is.

And so, in spite of some flaws, the Mexican scheme does set a positive example to the wider world. A growing number of countries are taking inspiration from the serious commitment Mexico and the UK have made to climate issues by scrambling to put their own version of these climate change acts in place.

Added to this, a few months before Obrador took office, in July 2018, an amendment beefed up the Mexican framework slightly to bring it into line with requirements under the international Paris Agreement. So there is still much to feel optimistic about.

It is to be hoped that the Obrador administration recognises that valuing and acting on Mexico’s important, pioneering framework begins at home. This will allow the flow of international green finance to Mexico from the UK and other major state funders to continue. If not, the UK will be looking elsewhere for a developing nation to support it in its commitment to fighting climate change.The Conversation

About The Author

Thomas L Muinzer, Lecturer in Energy Law, University of Dundee

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Kindle Edition

by David Wallace-Wells
0525576703It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. Available On Amazon

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

by Dahr Jamail
1620972344After nearly a decade overseas as a war reporter, the acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering, only to find that the slopes he had once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. In response, Jamail embarks on a journey to the geographical front lines of this crisis—from Alaska to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, via the Amazon rainforest—in order to discover the consequences to nature and to humans of the loss of ice.  Available On Amazon

Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World

by Ellen Moyer
1942936559Our scarcest resource is time. With determination and action, we can implement solutions rather than sit on the sidelines suffering harmful impacts. We deserve, and can have, better health and a cleaner environment, a stable climate, healthy ecosystems, sustainable use of resources, and less need for damage control. We have so much to gain. Through science and stories, Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves makes the case for hope, optimism, and practical solutions we can take individually and collectively to green our technology, green our economy, strengthen our democracy, and create social equality. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfrdehiiditjakomsfaptruesswsvthtrurvi

POLITICS

How The Politics Of Fear Manipulates Us To Tribalism
How The Politics Of Fear Manipulates Us To Tribalism
by Arash Javanbakht
People have always used fear for intimidation of the subordinates or enemies, and shepherding the tribe by the leaders.
Using Language To Fight Dirty Fossil Fuels
Using Language To Fight Dirty Fossil Fuels
by Matthew Hoffmann
I had a room full of bright first-year university students in front of me, but confusion reigned as I tried to describe…
The Counter-Intuitive Solution To Getting People To Care About Climate Change
The Counter-Intuitive Solution To Getting People To Care About Climate Change
by Kamyar Razavi
In a May episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Bill Nye the Science Guy took a blowtorch to a miniature globe.…
What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
What Does The Dutch Court Ruling On Climate Targets Mean For Australia?
by Katherine Lake
In a landmark ruling, The Hague District Court has ordered the Netherlands government to take more action to reduce its…
How Students Grow Their Community Roots And Critical Consciousness
How Students Grow Their Community Roots And Critical Consciousness
by Jennifer D. Adams and Pieranna Pieroni
Iris, a high school student in New York City, took a course aimed at preparing public school students for college.
7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It
7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It
by Jessica Corbett
We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a…
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
Half-Submerged Trump Head, Says Artist, Designed to Silence Destructive Words and Deeds of US President
by Eoin Higgins
"The idea was to gag Trump, to silence him, but he continues to speak."
'The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We,' Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
The Climate Crisis Doesn't Go on Summer Holiday, And Neither Will We, Says Greta Thunberg as #FridaysForFuture Returns to the Streets
by Jessica Corbett
A campaigner in Nigeria adds, "It doesn't matter the course you study nor your age, we need you to join climate…

LATEST VIDEOS

Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater
by USA TODAY
In places around the world, supplies of groundwater are rapidly vanishing. As aquifers decline and wells begin to go…
Why Climate Change Won't Be Solved Easily
by Thom Hartmann Program
Solutions for Climate Change are going to have to be much more radical and much more powerful than the solutions we…
The Counter-Intuitive Solution To Getting People To Care About Climate Change
The Counter-Intuitive Solution To Getting People To Care About Climate Change
by Kamyar Razavi
In a May episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Bill Nye the Science Guy took a blowtorch to a miniature globe.…
5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
5 Ways To Be A Responsible Wildlife Tourist
by Tracie McKinney
Imagine walking through a lush tropical forest. You hear a rustle overhead, and a half-eaten fruit plops onto the…
Climate Change Is Affecting Crop Yields And Reducing Global Food Supplies
Climate Change Is Affecting Crop Yields And Reducing Global Food Supplies
by Deepak Ray
Farmers are used to dealing with weather, but climate change is making it harder by altering temperature and rainfall…
The Arctic Paradox
by Tobias Thorleifsson
Explore Ellesmere Island with Tobias in this talk, as he urges us to protect this arctic environment from the hands of…
Increased Drought Amid Climate Change & Warming
by Kate Marvel, Radio Ecoshock
Columbia/NASA scientist Kate Marvel explains “hyroclimate” as rains and droughts go extreme. When it comes to your…

LATEST ARTICLES

A New Wave Of Smart Cities Has Arrived
A New Wave Of Smart Cities Has Arrived
by James Ransom
An abandoned mine shaft beneath the town of Mansfield, England is an unlikely place to shape the future of cities.
An EU Ban On Palm Oil Won't Save Asian Rainforests, But Here's What Might Help
An EU Ban On Palm Oil Won't Save Asian Rainforests, But Here's What Might Help
by Elizabeth Robinson and Herry Purnomo
Anyone lucky enough to visit Ghana could do worse than order a plate of boiled yam and red-red – a stew made with beans…
How The Politics Of Fear Manipulates Us To Tribalism
How The Politics Of Fear Manipulates Us To Tribalism
by Arash Javanbakht
People have always used fear for intimidation of the subordinates or enemies, and shepherding the tribe by the leaders.
Betting On Speculative Geoengineering May Risk An Escalating Climate Debt Crisis
Betting On Speculative Geoengineering May Risk An Escalating Climate Debt Crisis
by Shinichiro Asayama and Mike Hulme
The opening of the Oscar-winning film The Big Short, a comedy-drama on the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, begins…
Solar Weather Has Real, Material Effects On Earth
Solar Weather Has Real, Material Effects On Earth
by Michael Batu
On Sep. 1, 1859, solar astronomer Richard Carrington witnessed sunspots that suddenly and briefly flashed brightly…
Using Language To Fight Dirty Fossil Fuels
Using Language To Fight Dirty Fossil Fuels
by Matthew Hoffmann
I had a room full of bright first-year university students in front of me, but confusion reigned as I tried to describe…
Adapting Cities To A Hotter World
Adapting Cities To A Hotter World
by Jennifer Weeks
Heat waves can be deadly, especially when they combine high temperatures with elevated humidity levels that make the…
How Ice Cores Shape Our Understanding Of Ancient Climate
How Ice Cores Shape Our Understanding Of Ancient Climate
by Tas van Ommen
It is just over 50 years since French scientist Claude Lorius dropped some glacier ice in his whisky and started a…