Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Nature magazine. It quotes The Nature Conservancy’s Juan Bezaury, an environmental policy expert based in Mexico. This is an excerpted version of the article.
In a move that reflects a global trend, Mexico passed with bipartisan support one of the strongest national climate-change laws so far on April 19. Mexico ranks 11th in the world for both the size of its economy and its level of carbon emissions.
The new legislation includes a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 30% below current levels by 2020, and by 50% below 2000 levels by 2050. Furthermore, it stipulates that 35% of the country’s energy should come from renewable sources by 2024, and requires mandatory emissions reporting by the country’s largest polluters.
Experts say that Mexico’s climate bill reflects a global trend in which individual states and countries, frustrated with stalled United Nations climate agreements, have begun implementing their own emissions regulations. In recent years, countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, South Korea and China have all taken steps to create their own standards and goals for mitigating climate change, including the establishment of carbon markets.
However, this approach may face some of the same hurdles as the international efforts. “We’re very good at making laws. And then the problem is enforcing them,” says Juan Bezaury, an expert in Mexican public policy with the Nature Conservancy in Arlington. He adds that the new law is “only the first phase of a complete legal overhaul for Mexico. It deals with the environment, it deals with energy, it deals with human settlements, it deals with health issues, it deals with a whole lot of stuff”.
He compares the bill to a skeleton on which many other laws must be hung. One of those is Mexico’s REDD+ policy (for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The policy creates a monetary value for carbon in forests, and attempts to give people living in those regions a financial incentive to preserve rather than cut down virgin forest — either by being paid to save the trees or by harvesting sustainably.
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Photo courtesy of CARLOS CAZALIS/CORBIS.
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