CLEAN AND GREEN

Mexico 2015 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), on green investments, the environmental significance of the National Development Plan 2013-2018, and Mexico's goals to diminish greenhouse gas emissions.

Juan José Guerra Abud
BIOGRAPHY
Juan José Guerra Abud studied Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad Anahuac and a degree in economics at the University of Southern California. He was Secretary of Economic Development for the Government of the State of Mexico and a member of the Mexiquense Council of Infrastructure. He is a professor of economics, financial mathematics and integral calculas. He has held executive positions in Krone Comunicaciones, Unitec Boelhoff, and the National Association of Manufacturers of Buses (ANPACT). He is President of the Symphony Orchestra board of the Estado de Mexico. In the LXI (61) Legislature of the Chamber of Deputies, he served as coordinator of the Parliamentary Group of the Partido Verde Ecologista of Mexico and Secretary of the Transport Commission.

You recently said that, “Green investments represent savings and gains for the private sector." What steps is SEMARNAT taking to boost such investments?

Mexico is developing strategies and policies to move towards a green economy. Thus constitutional reforms will form, among other benefits, a new framework in which it can achieve several things, such as: encourage energy generation from clean sources (wind, solar, geothermal, natural gas), promote energy transition, foster the use of low-carbon technologies and fuels, and make sure that sustainability is the underlying principle for energy infrastructure project development. This has the potential to create 1 million green jobs by 2018.

What is the main environmental significance of the National Development Plan 2013-2018?

The aim of boosting the green growth established in the National Development Plan, can only be achieved with coordination between several actors, including various agencies and departments of the Federal Public Administration, different orders of government —and, of course, the private sector. The result from this combination and coordination of efforts will be to double the value of the production of environmental goods and services (from 1.07 % to 2.14 % of GDP), reduce by 31% the carbon intensity (from 84.77 to 58.67 tCO2e/million pesos to the prices of 2003), and to decrease by 16% GHG emissions per capita (from 6.55 (2010) to 5.51 tCO2e/capita), among other benefits. Eventually, this will increase the value of environmental sustainability competitiveness from 0.9 to 1.0 in the World Economic Forum competitive Index.

What are the needs and priorities of Mexico on environmental issues and what are the challenges and opportunities?

Inclusive green growth should take advantage of opportunities in terms of job creation, reducing inequality gaps, increasing levels of welfare and development and strengthening competitive advantages. These six objectives are expressed in the Sector Program of Environment and Natural Resources 2013-18. Undoubtedly, the strengthening of efforts to preserve the environment, or transiting to the 'green economy', is one of the most important challenges for the Mexican government. In this regard, it is of great importance to consolidate the "Special Program on Sustainable Production and Consumption", which allows the linking of different levels of the public sector with the private and social sectors to implement actions that could achieve green growth to generate wealth, competitiveness and employment.

What strategies is SEMARNAT implementing to diminish greenhouse gas emission?

In April 2012, the Mexican Congress unanimously approved the General Law on Climate Change (LGCC, as per its acronym in Spanish). The LGCC incorporates indicative mitigation objectives of 30% emission reduction by 2020 with respect to the baseline, and 50% by 2050 with respect to emissions recorded in 2000. Likewise, the Law establishes the commitment to generate 35% of electricity from clean sources by the year 2024. In January 2014, a carbon tax entered into force in Mexico. In October of that year, SEMARNAT published the regulations of the new National Emissions Registry, which makes it mandatory to register the GHG and SLCP of those emitters that surpass 25,000 CO2e tons per year. Moreover, Mexico introduced a $3.50/tonne carbon tax on fossil fuels in 2014 and will at some point allow emitters to buy and sell Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from CO2. It also will launch its carbon offset market in 2017. Mexico's tax and offset scheme forms part of its efforts to reduce GHG emissions by 30% below business as usual (BAU) levels by 2020, and halving 2000 levels by mid-century. Mexico has pledged to cut its emissions by at least 25% below BAU levels by 2030.