Tanya Müller
View from the Top

Uncovering the New Climate Action Program

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:16

Q: What are the main vulnerabilities of Mexico City in the face of climate change?

A: In 2014, Mexico City presented its Climate Change Action Program 2014-2020, which identified areas of vulnerability. Currently there are 5.6 million inhabitants that have been impacted to a certain degree by climate change; of these 40,000 are at risk of high floods and 3 million are in danger of minor floods. The extreme hydrometeorological risks such as flooding and landslides are a main concern. There are also less obvious impacts such as health, as the rising temperatures lead to dehydration, which impacts the elderly and the youth the most. In 2013, Mexico City was among 33 cities that were selected by the Rockefeller Foundation to support climate change programs. Over 400 cities applied and Mexico City was chosen because of the clear vision within the Climate Change Action Program and because the subject of resilience was woven throughout. Our program revolves around sustainable urban development that involves transversal and social strategies.

Q: What are the main characteristics that distinguish this new program, and what were the stages of its development?

A: This program was developed alongside Centro Mario Molina and has several concrete goals. The first is mitigation, with the objective of reducing 10 million tonnes of CO2. The second refers to increasing the city’s resilience and helping those 5.6 million inhabitants who are vulnerable to climate change. Another important area is urban planning; if the city continues to grow horizontally toward the peripheries, then the environmental impact is larger. We need to redensify the urban areas of Mexico City and encourage equitative development, dynamism, and densification. There is also a non-motorized mobility strategy which involves investment in bike mobility. The program also includes the theme of urban spaces and land conservation, where 60% of the land in the city must be considered as conservation area.

Q: What are the mitigation strategies that you are implementing in order to reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions?

A: It is important to note that there are indirect and direct reduction of emissions. In our program there are 73 actions in seven main areas, and it is important to quantify how each will reduce emissions and how much cost it will entail for the government. For instance, the incorporation of the new metrobus lines represents a good opportunity for CO2 reduction, since it entails renewing the old buses with vehicles that have ultra-low emission technologies. The next metrobus extension is scheduled for line five, which has a length of 17km entending from San Lazaro to Vaqueritos. We know that with this new route, we will reduce the equivalent of 20,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Q: What are the initiatives SEDEMA has put in place in the transport sector in order to reduce pollution and improve the quality of life and security of the inhabitants of the city?

A: One of the strongest areas in our program is transportation, and this is where we will find the highest levels of CO2 reductions. The four actions we are implementing will require an investment of US$41.2 billion. With this investment we can eliminate 10 million tonnes of emissions, and the present administration must reach three-quarters of the actual program, thus mitigating 6.5 million tonnes of CO2. Our scrapping program is focused on public transportation, and, while we want to encourage the use of this transportation, we must also make sure it is of high quality, safe, and efficient. The tune-up verification programs incentivize people to renew their cars and maintain them in good working order. As a result, the metropolitan area has the largest and newest vehicle park in the whole country.

Q: How does SEDEMA collaborate with the private sector in order to further its agenda?

A: A success story detailing this constant collaboration is that of Bosque de Chapultepec, where a trustfund has been put in place. Each peso that the private sector contributes is matched by the government. The second section of the forest will be renewed in a record time of four years. We also collaborate with NGOs in order to validate our findings, and the study for the Ecobici is conducted externally by an NGO that is specialized in sustainable transportation. Additionally, SEDEMA provides fiscal incentives to companies that adhere to environmental programs so they can receive benefits by opting for sustainable and green practices.