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What Gummer Didn’t Tell You About Mexico’s Climate Pledge

October 19, 2014
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood 

 

h/t Guenier

 

Yesterday I looked at CO2 emission trends for some of the major emitters around the world, other than the EU, US, China & India. One country I picked out was Mexico, where emissions had increased by 5% in the last three years.

Mexico happens to be one of the countries highlighted by John Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change as having passed a Climate Act.

 

image

http://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Owen-Patersons-speech-to-the-GWPF-the-CCCs-response1.pdf

 

GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation, the group originally set up British MP’s to encourage legislators worldwide to tackle climate change, have a database which gives more detail on individual countries’ legislative actions to date. Their entry for Mexico is intriguing.

 

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http://www.globeinternational.org/pdfviewer

 

Note the “2020 Pledge” box.

 

30% GHG emissions reduction with respect to business as usual scenario by 2020 (given adequate financial and technical support from developed countries).

 

No figure is provided for how much money they want, no doubt this will be left open for negotiation. But it is apparent that we can expect little action from Mexico until the West coughs up large amounts of money.

 

 

Mexico’s outgoing President, Felipe Calderon, signed off the General Law on Climate Change in 2012. This set out a strategy for reducing emissions, but, crucially, as the GLOBE fact sheet states:

Regulations still need to be determined for the implementation of the Law, the details of which should be completed by mid-2013 by the new government.

 

Shortly after the law was passed, Reuters reported:

 

Mexico’s new president is unlikely to implement much of the sweeping climate change law signed in June by outgoing President Felipe Calderon amid inevitable resistance from industry and his party’s focus on accelerating economic growth and ramping-up oil and gas production, policy experts said.

Enrique Pena Nieto, who will take office in December after winning national elections earlier this month, will bring the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) back to the presidency after a 12-year hiatus, resuming its 71-year reign over Mexico.

One of Pena Nieto’s main campaign promises had been to reinvigorate sagging oil and gas production by reforming Mexico’s state-owned giant Pemex to allow more private investment.

The president-elect will also be under pressure to deliver a campaign goal to increase Mexico’s GDP growth to as much as 6 percent per year, making a focus on environmental issues unrealistic in his first years in office, experts said.

 

Mexico’s climate law, one of Calderon’s legacies, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2050.

It also calls for a major increase of the use of renewable sources to generate up to 35 percent of all electricity in the country and requires mandatory emissions reporting by all the major economic sectors.

But the legislation will need to implement several mechanisms, such as a financial incentive to drive renewables investment and an emissions trading system to reduce carbon, that may be too complicated for the new administration.

"The goals are certainly very aggressive and I will put a question mark on them," Carlos Ramirez, Mexico analyst for political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said.

"Because it will not be the first time and certainly will not be the last time that a law approved by the Congress has goals that are out of reach for the country," he added.

Ramirez said the new government will be focused on oil and gas production. One of the pillars of Pena Nieto’s campaign was to further open the oil and gas sector to attract private investment and increase production.

Mexico’s oil production has fallen by a quarter since a peak in 2004 to about 2.55 million barrels per day.

Pemex estimated there are up to 29 billion barrels of crude equivalent in the Gulf of Mexico, but the company lacks the expertise do tap these reserves. Broader partnerships with other companies would be necessary.

 

Political analyst Eduardo Viola, a professor of International Relations at University of Brasilia , called the attention to the way presidential systems work in Latin America and the shifts expected in a political transition.

"A large part of the legislation will be left to be regulated by the next president. The law’s implementation timing will always depend on the president’s orientation," said Viola, a Global Environmental Politics scholar.

"This is a common scenario for presidential systems in Latin America, something that we know well," he said.

Viola said Pena Nieto will be a more domestically-focused president than Calderon, who had prioritized global issues, such as climate change action.

 

This really goes to the heart of the issue. In many, maybe most, countries around the world, governments tend to do what they want to do, and are not prepared to be bound by pledges and laws made by their predecessors. To expect them to honour these commitments in ten or twenty years time is the height of folly.

It is naive of Gummer and co to expect that other countries will behave as the UK government model does. Putting it brutally, any promises made to GLOBE are not worth the paper they are written on.

 

Oil Boom

So what has happened since the new President took power?

Bloomberg reported two months ago:

 

image

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-07/mexico-oil-is-boon-for-exxon-to-bp-as-frontiers-teeter.html?utm_source=Energydesk+Daily+Email&utm_campaign=cebbae8e04-Energydesk_Dispatch5_9_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ad1a620334-cebbae8e04-132256353

 

Mexico’s vote on rules for the end of its 76-year state-oil monopoly couldn’t come at a better time for global energy companies from Exxon to Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

With reserves holding $1.3 trillion of crude at yesterday’s prices, Mexico offers a new opportunity for deep-pocketed producers as well as pipeline and power companies to try and mimic an energy revolution that has spurred U.S. oil output to a 26-year high and pushed Canadian production to records. New access to Mexico comes amid unrest in some African oil nations and sanctions that threaten to strangle Russian output, places where some oil companies have invested heavily in production.

An injection of foreign investment could help double daily output to 5 million barrels a day, a figure that would rank Mexico the world’s fourth-largest producer. It would join a North American energy boom that has reignited investment in manufacturing and reduced trade deficits as the U.S. seeks to become free of oil and natural gas imports and even begins to contemplate exports.

 

Pena Nieto has done everything he promised to do in terms of opening up the oil sector and going for economic growth.

I would estimate that the chance of Mexico meeting any of its commitments in the near future are less than Gummer admitting to the temperature standstill!

 

I’ll leave the final words to Christina McCain, senior manager of the Latin America Climate Initiative, run by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), from the Reuters article.

 

"The law he has inherited gives Pena Nieto discretion over how robustly to implement it; in other words, he begins his term with the power and opportunity to establish Mexico as a leading 21st-century low-carbon economy.”

 

Unfortunately, Christina, it works both ways.

2 Comments
  1. Derek permalink
    October 19, 2014 11:09 pm

    This is very revealing and shows the true situation of many nations. They might pay lip service to reducing CO2, but only if they get enough finance. Our government is daft enough to fall for this blackmail, but others are not. Gummer and his friends are desperate to convince us that we should (must) continue with the Climate Change Act, but events are moving against him. This blog is doing outstanding work to uncover the lies. Please keep going.

  2. guenier permalink
    October 20, 2014 8:27 am

    Thanks for the h/t.

    Another country singled out by Gummer is Finland. It does seem that Finland may be committed to an 80% reduction by 2050 but it’s hard to access any useful details. This link – http://www.ym.fi/fi-FI/Ajankohtaista/Valtioneuvosto_hyvaksyi_esityksen_ilmast(29798) – isn’t much help (to me) as it’s in Finnish. However a Google translation includes this: ‘It would enhance the public sector emission reduction goals, and building a low-carbon society, but does not impose any new obligations on companies or other operators.’ Whatever does that mean? Does Finland’s commitment apply only to the public sector?

    Whatever the truth of this, as Finland’s 2012 share of global CO2 emissions is about 0.1%, I suggest ‘the exception that proves the rule’ maxim applies.

    In short, Gummer’s claim that ‘many countries are legally committed to cutting carbon’ isn’t true. What is true, however, is that many more countries – the so-called ‘Non-Annex I’ countries (many, probably most, of his ’66’ fall into this category) are legally permitted, under Article 4.7 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to make increasing emissions in pursuit of economic growth an overriding priority over reducing emissions.

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