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Going Verde: Mexico Passes Climate Change Law

Last week, Mexico’s Senate passed a rather ambitious climate change law. And it did so with a 78 to 0 vote – something not seen too often in our country! This makes our neighbors to the south only the second nation in the world (the United Kingdom is the other) and the first developing country, to pass such legislation.

The law includes several measures, including:

  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from “business as usual” by 2020 and a 50% reduction by 2050
  • Renewable sources accounting for 35% of its energy consumption
  • Major emitters of various sectors required to track and report emissions
  • Establishment of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, a research and development institution
  • Creation of a foundation to raise financial resources to implement programs
  • Requirement that government agencies use renewable energy

Ironically, while lawmakers in the United States continue to cite negative economic effects as a reason not to enact a similar law, Mexico’s lawmakers used the same reasoning to pass the ground-breaking legislation. According to reports, projects to restore damage caused by climate change cost over $2.2 billion USD from July 2010 to July 2011. The increasing numbers of devastating floods as well as a terrible drought (the worst Mexico says it has ever seen) were cited as examples of the detrimental effects climate change has had on the nation and its economy. Some may find this reasoning surprising given that Mexico is the world’s sixth largest oil exporter (and is the eleventh highest greenhouse gas emitter in the world).

The top-level Climate Change Commission will oversee the law’s implementation and enforcement. Many say that the key will be to see if the law will be properly enforced. In this last year of his 6-year term, President Felipe Calderon, who would like his lasting legacy to include environmental achievements, is expected to sign the bill into law this week. It will be interesting to see if this shifts the political climate (see what I did there??) in the United States at all towards a similar federal law. Don’t hold your carbon dioxide (aka breath) …

Categories: Climate Change