Erick Marte
President of the Renewable Energy Commission
Chamber of Deputies
View from the Top

A Green Chamber Will Set the Example

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:16

Q: What elements led to the creation of the Renewable Energy Commission?

A: Traditionally, the energy theme in the Chamber of Deputies has been summarized by two agencies: PEMEX and CFE. This meant that the topics of conversation centered on hydrocarbons and power generation. In response, in 2012, the parliamentary group PAN suggested the need to create a special commission that focused solely on clean and renewable energies, as well as on matters of sustainability.

In our eyes, we could not leave the subject of renewable energies in the hands of the traditional Energy Commission since we identified several potential risks. As we all saw, the main debate regarding the Energy Reform revolved not around renewable energies but oil, so we felt that by creating a separate commission, we could increase transparency and eliminate conflict of interest surrounding hydrocarbons from renewable energies.

Q: What key role does the Renewable Energy Commission of the Chamber of Deputies play?

A: The Renewable Energies Commission is there to reinforce the objectives and goals that the legislative and executive powers defined in conjunction, and it has been widely accepted by all the legislators that integrate it. Some members see renewable energies as economically crucial and as sources of employment, others see them as cultural tools to teach the younger generations, and others as important environmental tools. Through active cooperation between all political parties, we have proposed several initiatives that will improve the conditions of energy development in Mexico.

Q: What is the Renewable Energy Commission’s view on the objectives stated in the Energy Reform?

A: During the promulgation of the Energy Reform, the image that was constantly reinforced was that of renewable energies. The reason is obvious, since it attracted the attention of younger generations that are the most interested in clean energies. We were concerned that this focus would not be reflected in the actual legislation or in the profundity it requires. We see with great sadness that the Energy Reform concentrated its efforts on the theme of oil. As the Commission of Renewable Energy, when we spoke of energy independence we did not refer to Mexicans ceasing to depend on the importation of oil, but rather becoming independent from oil altogether.

There was little understanding on behalf of many legislators surrounding the energy market and especially renewable energies. I have proposed an initiative in the Chamber of Deputies that will protect the existing energy reserves. If we reduce the volume of oil used and simultaneously expand the energy portfolio with renewable energies, we will reach a point where the reserves will only be used for emergencies. However, if we evaluate the budget assigned to the Energy Reform and the goals we have for renewable energies, we see these are misaligned. We will not reach the goals unless the resources increase, and for this reason we believe that the Mexican Hydrocarbons Fund should be more generous. Likewise, we should also provide incentives and more favorable conditions to investors and private players.

Q: What steps is the government taking to make its offices more aligned with sustainable practices?

A: The Chamber of Deputies consumes MX$20 million worth of electricity per year, which amounts to the consumption of 6,000 households. We realized that if the Chamber of Deputies is legislating for an energy transition and has climate change as one of its priorities, then it should reflect this by consuming energy efficiently and becoming a promoter of clean energies. The Commission is proposing the implementation of clean energies in every government building.

Modifying the lighting in the Chamber would have an immediate impact, since our electricity consumption would drop by 30-40%. The effect would be greater if we generate our own energy by installing solar panels in the Chamber. If we carry out this project, the Chamber of Deputies would become the first green congress in the world. We hope this project can motivate all state and municipal governments to follow suit and opt for greener options.