Mexico to Pass Climate Law

By Alexandra Stark

On Friday, Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a new piece of climate change legislation, making it only the second country in the world behind the UK and its Climate Change Act to do so, once it is approved by Mexico’s Senate. The law calls for reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

When it is signed by the President and becomes law, the climate legislation will require the government to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020, and, with international support, begin phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and make renewable power more competitive with oil, coal, and gas.  There is also a strong focus on equity, conserving Mexico’s environment, and making sure there is widespread citizen participation.

The law is a game changer even on its own merits.  Mexico, which hosted the 2010 UN climate negotiations in Cancun, is currently the 11th largest GHG emitting country, and is projected to be the fifth largest economy in the world by 2050.  But beyond its immediate effects, this law should be a wake-up call to the developed countries of the world, and particularly to the U.S.

The last time the U.S. Congress tried to pass comprehensive climate change legislation, way back in 2009, cap-and-trade legislation managed to squeak by in the House of Representatives by a 219-212 vote. A triumvirate of bi-partisan senators (Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham) managed to cobble together an odd bedfellows coalition of the major green groups and biggest polluters of industry.  Yet it all fell apart, and things have only gone downhill (or even, one might argue, off a cliff) since then, when it’s totally in vogue in the mainstream of one party to deny that climate change even exists, while the other is too frightened of its own shadow to utter the word “climate” out loud.

Members of Congress are of course reacting to constituent perceptions, but also to campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which spent more than $25 million during the 11th Congress on campaign contributions.  Meanwhile, industry cries that committing to emissions reduction, putting a price on carbon, or cutting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry will wreak havoc on the fragile U.S. economy and result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Mexico is a developing country, with a GDP per capita that is less than a third of the U.S., and more than 50 percent of Mexico’s population lives under the national poverty line.  Mexico is also suffering from the global economic recession, during which its economy may have contracted by at least 5 percent. The message from Mexico’s climate law is clear – if they can do it, then so can we.

Image Credit: UNclimatechange, Flickr

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5 responses

  1. Proof that the “greatest threat” to the planet is exaggerated and therefore not real:

    If this death wish for everyone was true, the millions of people in the global scientific community would be marching to save THEIR children’s lives as well, the children they themselves have condemned to a CO2 death. Deny that.

    Exaggerated science trumps any and all scientific science and consensus.

    “global warming is the greatest threat to the planet” -Earth Hour

    “catastrophic climate crisis by the end of the century” – IPCC 1991

    REAL planet lovers and real progressives are happy a crisis was avoided for what ever reason. Further fear mongering of the voter and their children will keep progressives out of power for a decade.

    1.  By publishing report after report after report, testifying at hearings, writing letters, joining local initiatives, spearheading local, state, and national efforts, and likely taking strong action at home, these scientists *are* doing what they can to bring attention to the matter.  While we haven’t yet seen really widespread devastation, we *have* seen a lot of localized effects which, globally, amount to an increasing impact.  Examples: a greater frequency of extreme weather events (floods, droughts, record heat, extreme storms, increased tornadic activity just to name a few), widespread loss of biodiversity, rapidly decreasing populations of not yet (but soon to be) threatened species, global soil loss, and speedily decreasing supplies of fresh water are just a few of the issues. 

      Taken altogether, it is clear that there are substantial threats to civilized society that need to be addressed.   It’s overwhelming, and it is tempting to be overly optimistic.  The abundance of scientific reports documenting all of these changes continues to grow each month – are you saying that a majority of the meteorological, biological, hydrological, and sociological (among others) scientific community are all intentionally exaggerating their findings? 

      The bigger questions is: what are the risks of ignoring the scientific evidence?  Although the climate crisis is not yet globally catastrophic, is it wise to wait until it is?  What will be the cost, by then, in terms of money and human suffering?


    1. Hahaha. I just got back from NZ studying their environmental policy. My take on it? It’s good for tourism. Did you know NZers own more cars per capita than USers? In Chch, in the 80s they had more bikes per capita than the Netherlands and now! Suburbanisation like crazy. NZ renegged on their 0 waste initiative. They are just a bunch of fluff! It’s high time NZ and friends woke up and smelled the petrol fumes (from the Japanese emissions reject cars they import since they shut down their own respectable car manufacturing industry) . They are not the environmental leaders they thought they would be in the 80s. And don’t even get me started on what they are doing to their water with their increasing dairy farming and giving in to foreign ag investors who know nothing about farming and don’t give a tinker’s fart about NZs environment. Stop trying to put them on a pedestal. 

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