Obama Pledges To Help Mexico Meet Its Climate Goals

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto is in town and ready to discuss enhancing relations with the U.S. But with most of the focus put on immigration reform, few in the press noticed this was the first time energy and global warming made it into high level U.S.-Mexico talks.

The Obama administration has announced a pledge to help Mexico meet its goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build up its energy markets in the wake of deregulation. To do this the White House will create a “binational business-to-business energy council” to facilitate technology and energy flows between the two countries.

The Obama administration also promised to help Mexico lower its greenhouse gas emissions by “promoting renewable energy, sharing strategies for low-emission development, and working together through technical cooperation and information exchange on how best to implement our shared climate objectives” through 2020.

The Obama-Mexico climate deal comes just two months after the White House and the Chinese government announced a joint effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Obama pledged to cut U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and China pledged to peaks its emissions by 2030.

The agreement, however, quickly fell apart after China opposed U.S. led climate efforts at a United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru last December.

In 2012, Mexico became one of the first countries in the world to pass a global warming law. Mexico currently has a voluntary pledge of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 levels by 2050 and getting one-third of its energy from renewable sources by 2024.

But so far environmentalists have been skeptical Mexico will stick to its climate goals, citing the fact that the country is opening oil markets to foreign investment and is the world’s 13th largest carbon dioxide emitter.

“Mexico put on the climate change T-­shirt because it was in vogue,” Carlos Tornel, a policy analyst at the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, told The New York Times. “We are the champions of the climate change fight — the good boy who does his homework — but the resources dedicated to climate change are few.”

President Nieto has also been largely focused on growing economic opportunity for Mexicans and working with the Obama administration to open up the U.S. immigration system — hence the voluntary aspect of Mexico’s climate goals.

Opening up oil markets is one way Nieto wants to spur economic growth. Mexico’s oil sector has been controlled by a nationalized oil company Petróleos Mexicanos. With the 75-year-old monopoly finally broken, energy experts say oil production will rise dramatically.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that Mexico’s oil production could reach 3.7 million barrels per day by 2040 — 75 percent higher than it would have been without deregulation.

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