Mexico’s Congress Passes Climate Change Bill

By Julia Ciardullo

On April 19, 2012, Mexico’s Senate unanimously passed the Ley General de Cambio Climático, or the General Law on Climate Change.  The bill, which previously passed The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, by a vote of 128-10, includes a requirement that Mexico reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent below business-as-usual levels by 2020 and by 50 percent below 2000 levels by 2050.

In addition, the bill mandates that 35 percent of the country’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2024; requires mandatory emissions reporting by the country’s largest polluters; establishes a top-level commission to oversee implementation of the law, lead environmental research, and report on emissions levels; provides for the development of a carbon emissions trading scheme; and establishes a fund to collect resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

The bill comes at a time when international efforts to develop a successor to the Kyoto Protocol have stalled.  In the absence of a strong international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, individual countries have taken action domestically to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  For example, Australia and South Korea each recently approved a carbon emissions trading scheme.  According to an article published by Nature, Mexico has “made one of the boldest commitments of any nation to limit climate change.”  Mexico is the first developing country to pass a bill making carbon dioxide targets legally binding.

Experts have expressed concerns about Mexico’s ability to implement the law.  Funding for certain measures is based on international financing from the UNFCCC and the Green Climate Fund, which seek support from wealthier countries for climate change initiatives in developing countries.  Nonetheless, several analyses, including one from the World Bank, indicate that Mexico already has many cost-effective emissions reduction opportunities throughout its economy.  For instance, Mexico’s government estimates that the country has the potential to generate 71 gigawatts of wind power — 40 percent more than its current generating capacity from all energy sources, including coal and hydropower.

President Felipe Calderón, who has been an advocate for international action to reduce greenhouse gasses and mitigate climate change, is expected to sign the bill into law.

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