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Mexico Commits to Combat Climate Change at Major Economies Forum

By María José Goytia | Wed, 06/22/2022 - 14:00

President López Obrador participated in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), a summit led by US President Joe Biden. Mexico’s head of government presented a guidebook of actions that the country is undertaking to fight climate change.

At the MEF, President López Obrador reiterated Mexico's commitment that by 2024, 35 percent of the country's energy consumption will come from clean sources, a commitment made during Enrique Peña Nieto's presidency at the 2016 Paris Agreements.

During his speech, López Obrador presented the project to modernize the 16 of CFE's hydroelectric plants. The investment seeks to upgrade turbines and increase clean energy production by 2,085GWh/y.

Another of the manual’s points was the construction of a PV solar park in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, which will have a generation capacity of 1,000MW. The park, announced in 2021, will be operated by CFE.

Mexico also joined the collective commitment of the world's leading economies to producing 50 percent of its vehicles with zero polluting emissions by 2030.

Likewise, the president assured that the country keeps pushing for energy self-sufficiency. He highlighted the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco, the acquisition of the Deer Park Refinery in Texas and modernization works at the country's six existing refineries.

Furthermore, López Obrador announced the investment of 17 US companies to generate 1,854MW of solar and wind energy. The number of companies coincides with the number of renewable energy companies that met with the Mexican government a couple of weeks ago. If materialized, these new investments could end the drought of utility-scale renewable energy project development experienced so far throughout López Obrador's administration.

The announcement also includes exploring the possibility of constructing solar parks and transmission infrastructure along the US–Mexican border, in an attempt to launch a major business opportunity: the export of energy produced in Mexico to the US electricity markets, particularly to the state of California.

President López Obrador also outlined the Sowing Life reforestation program, one of his flagship social programs that he praises as one of Mexico's key efforts to fight climate change. The program involves 420,000 farmers, who will plant around 1 million ha of fruit and timber trees. According to the president, this program involves an annual investment of US$1.5 billion coming from the public budget and absorbs almost 4 million tons of carbon dioxide. However, data from the World Resources Institute (WRI) show that the program may not be a boon to the environment, generating a loss of 72,830ha of forest cover.

Concerning the emission of greenhouse gases, López Obrador highlighted an investment of US$2 billion for the state-utility oil company, PEMEX, to reduce methane gas emissions in exploration and production processes in the oil industry by up to 98 percent. The funds will come from the NOC's own resources and international credits acquired at special rates.

A visit by John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, preceded the announcement. This is no coincidence. The US has lobbied to push for the energy transition and greater action to combat climate change at the highest levels in Mexico. Now that agreements have been reached, both, the US government and companies will play a key role in Mexico's new strategy.

This was the third virtual meeting of the MEF under Biden's presidency. Fighting climate change and accelerating the international energy transition are key points of President Biden's foreign policy strategy. During his speech, Biden urged countries to accelerate moves to cut methane emissions, adopt ambitious targets for zero-emission vehicles and work to clean up global shipping.

Friday's meeting is the largest gathering of world leaders on climate change before the global climate conference, known as COP27, which will be held in Nov. 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The countries that make up the MEF account for roughly 80 percent of the global economic output and global greenhouse gas emissions.

Aside from Mexico and the US, other countries participating in the MEF include Argentina, Australia, Chile, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Norway, Nigeria, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, Vietnam and France.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Reuters, Expansión, El Sol de Toluca, La Política Online, Mexico Business News
María José Goytia María José Goytia Journalist and Industry Analyst