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-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

POLITICS

How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out
How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out
by Simge Andı and James Painter
New survey results from 40 countries shows that climate change matters to most people. In the vast majority of…
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is Devastating Indigenous Lands, With The World Distracted
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is Devastating Indigenous Lands, With The World Distracted
by Brian Garvey, and Mauricio Torres
The Amazon fires of 2019 drove the greatest single year loss of Brazilian forest in a decade. But with the world in the…
How Dystopian Narratives Can Incite Real-world Radicalism
How Dystopian Narratives Can Incite Real-World Radicalism
by Calvert Jones and Celia Paris
Humans are storytelling creatures: the stories we tell have profound implications for how we see our role in the world,…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Violent Weather Rises Spur More Political Conflict
Violent Weather Rises Spur More Political Conflict
by Tim Radford
Violent weather – seasonal storms, floods, fires and droughts – is growing more extreme, more often.
India Finally Takes Climate Crisis Seriously
India Finally Takes Climate Crisis Seriously
by Nivedita Khandekar
With financial losses and a heavy death toll from climate-related disasters constantly rising, India is at last…
Russia Moves To Exploit Arctic Riches
Russia Moves To Exploit Arctic Riches
by Paul Brown
As the polar sea ice vanishes faster, Russia unveils plans to exploit Arctic riches: fossil fuel deposits, minerals and…
Will Billionaire Climate Philanthropists Always Be Part Of The Problem
Will Billionaire Climate Philanthropists Always Be Part Of The Problem
by Heather Alberro
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and the richest man alive, recently made headlines after pledging to donate $10 billion to a new…

LATEST VIDEOS

Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
by Ken Buesseler
The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce…
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
by Gabriel Filippelli and Joseph D. Ortiz
“Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil” is not what anyone wants to hear about their city’s tap water. But the combined effects of…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.

LATEST ARTICLES

Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
Two-thirds Of Glacier Ice In The Himalayas Could Be Lost By 2100
by Ann Rowan
In the world of glaciology, the year 2007 would go down in history. It was the year a seemingly small error in a major…
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
Rising Temps Could Kill Millions A Year By Century’s End
by Edward Lempinen
By the end of this century, tens of millions of people could die each year worldwide as a result of temperatures rising…
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
New Zealand Wants To Build A 100% Renewable Electricity Grid, But Massive Infrastructure Is Not The Best Option
by Janet Stephenson
A proposed multibillion-dollar project to build a pumped hydro storage plant could make New Zealand’s electricity grid…
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
Wind Farms Built On Carbon-rich Peat Bogs Lose Their Ability To Fight Climate Change
by Guaduneth Chico et al
Wind power in the UK now accounts for nearly 30% of all electricity production. Land-based wind turbines now produce…
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
Climate Denial Hasn't Gone Away – Here's How To Spot Arguments For Delaying Climate Action
by Stuart Capstick
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about…
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
by Gunnar W. Schade
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames…
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
by Avit K Bhowmik
Europe’s major airlines are likely to see their turnover drop by 50% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…