Mexican General Law on Climate Change Serves as a Model for Mitigation and on-the-Ground Action

When the Mexican Senate overwhelmingly passed the “General Law on Climate Change” in December, it not only  set ambitious targets for its greenhouse gas emissions, it took steps toward serving as a model for other developing countries that also strive to address their climate change issues via on-the-ground action. In the Senate, the bill was approved 76-2 (with 5 abstentions) and on March 29, the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies voted on the bill – another step closer to its approval.

The law aims to:

  • Establish an inter-ministerial Commission on Climate Change
  • Create a climate fund to collect and channel resources for climate change initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and promote sustainable development
  • Provide the authority to establish an emissions market that can include international transactions
  • Set requirements for mandatory emissions measurement, reporting and verification, and create a public emissions registry that will cover emissions sources from a broad range of sectors
  • Set goals for states to reverse the trend of deforestation, increase electricity generation from clean sources to 35 percent by 2024, and reduce fossil fuel subsidies
  • The law establishes the National System of Climate Change as a permanent mechanism of communication, coordination and cooperation among the three levels of government and the social and private sectors. It also creates an Advisory Council to make recommendations to the National System of Climate Change, to evaluate national policy on climate change on a regular and systematic basis and to review the achievement of objectives, goals and actions of the program.

COP 16 in CancunThe initiative empowers the inter-ministerial Commission on Climate Change to work in cooperation with the Council on Climate Change to establish an emissions trading system and, where appropriate, proposes the creation of a regulatory body in order for participants to obtain allowances or emission reductions.

In terms of mitigation, the law states that the National Policy on Climate Change will include a process to diagnosis, plan, measure, monitor, report, verify and evaluate greenhouse gas emissions and compounds emitted by the country. This policy will establish specific reduction targets subject to the availability of financial and technological resources. Their implementation shall take place sequentially, giving priority to those areas of greatest potential for reducing the lowest cost, culminating in those of higher costs. Furthermore, it will meet the international commitments of Mexico on the subject.

On March 29, the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies voted in a revised version of the bill, after some changes were made to the original text from the Senate. These changes were the result of consultations with relevant stakeholders, including private sector and civil society members. The next step will be a vote during a plenary session of the Chamber, which should occur on April 10th. Because the language of bill was altered, if approved in the Chamber it will go back to the Senate for a second approval. Nevertheless, the Senate will have to act fast, because if the law isn’t included in the legislative agenda before April 15, it will have to wait until a new Congress arrives in September. When legislators leave, the bill could potentially lose momentum.

For those who want the General Law on Climate Change to become a reality, the battle is ongoing. There are still some powerful groups opposing the approval of the bill, mainly for political reasons. It should be noted this is a presidential election year in Mexico, and the entire political arena is working toward who will be seated in Los Pinos at the end of this year.

The General Law on Climate Change, if approved, would represent a very important step forward. It would guarantee the continuity of the work in climate change despite a change in Mexico’s administration.  Even factoring in the slow pace of the UNFCCC negotiations and a challenging economic backdrop, domestic legislation on climate change is now marching forward at a game changing rate.  It will give a shape of the debate in terms of transforming it from sharing a global burden to one of a realization that acting on climate change is in the national interest.