Mexico Involved in Debate over Global Climate Change

SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, October 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

Mexico Involved in Debate over Global Climate Change


Mexico is at the forefront of the debate over global climate change, with emissions of greenhouse gases increasing significantly in that country since the 1990s. The Mexican government admits that the country has done little to control emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases used in transportation, industry and agriculture, which many scientists say are responsible for atmospheric warming.

In a report released on Sept. 1, the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia (INE) released the results of a study indicating that emissions of these harmful substances in Mexico increased by 30% between 1990 and 2002. The study, called the Inventario Nacional de Gases de Efecto Invernadero, said emissions of greenhouse gases during the 12-year period increased by an average of 2.2% annually.

The INE said the energy sector, which includes the state-run oil company PEMEX and the government-affiliated Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) was responsible for one-fourth of the gases.

Transportation activities, particularly automobiles, were responsible for another 18% of the emissions, said the INE, which is a unit of the Secretaria del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT).

Discharges by private industry were responsible for another 16% of the emissions, while waste-disposal activities accounted for another 11%, said the study.

Increases in carbon dioxide and methane posed the most serious problems for Mexico. "Among the challenges faced by the country is to find ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels for transportation," said the report. "We must begin to promote energy-efficient vehicles.

The INE recommended an increase in the use of hybrid vehicles for public and private transportation. "Hybrids generate about two tons of carbon dioxide per year, compared with three for a conventional compact car, seven for a Suburban sports utility vehicle and ten tons for a Hummer," said the INE.

The INE's September report was a follow up to a similar report released in May of this year, which noted that Mexico ranks first in Latin America in fuel consumption, with usage estimated at 99.7 million tons per year.

According to the May report, almost all of Mexico is vulnerable to the effects of global climate change, with possible effects including the desertification of northern and central areas, a drop in agricultural production, a loss of biodiversity, water shortages, and flooding of coastal areas. "States like Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, and Campeche have large areas that are susceptible to floods," said the Mexico City daily newspaper La Jornada, quoting the INE report.

Global warming summit held in Monterrey

The concern over global climate change is increasingly becoming part of the agenda of Mexico's bilateral and multilateral meetings. In early October, Mexico hosted a meeting of 20 countries on global climate change in Monterrey. The meeting included energy and foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations and 12 other developing countries such as India, China, Brazil, and Mexico.

The gathering, which mostly took place behind closed doors, was attempting to gain a consensus among the countries on strategies to create a new framework to tackle climate change before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Mexico is one of 141 nations to endorse the Kyoto Protocol (see SourceMex, 2005-03-02). The protocol, which was signed in 1997, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other transportation, industrial and agricultural gases blamed by scientists for atmospheric warming.

Very few concrete proposals were presented to the public after the meeting other than a British plan urging developing countries to create more flexibility in their legal systems to allow private investment in clean energy.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said Germany, Japan and Britain would be working closely with Mexico to finance and develop clean technologies. …

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