Mexico is looking to attract financing from Canada and the United States to help it meet greenhouse gas reduction targets as leaders from the three North American nations prepare to endorse continental co-operation on climate change when they meet in Ottawa next week.
After bilateral sessions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will join his counterparts on Wednesday for a North American session that is expected to focus on security, trade and climate change.
Given Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump's anti-immigrant, populist agenda, the three leaders will be keen to highlight the ability of their governments to work together on the economy and on environmental protection.
"We are looking to align ourselves – the three partners in NAFTA – as closely as possible [on key issues] to demonstrate that in North America, we understand how creating growth that benefits our citizens and protecting the environment for future generations are not opposite goals but are very much complementary in the 21st century," Mr. Trudeau told a news conference this week.
Negotiators have been working on an agreement that would include efforts to harmonize environmental regulations, steps to phase out methane gases and broad commitments to encourage the use of carbon markets. Environmental groups are hopeful that North America will emerge as a global leader that will embrace co-operative action regionally and jointly push for greater international effort.
At the United Nations summit in Paris in December, Mexico committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 22 per cent compared with the expected business-as-usual level in 2030. It also adopted a conditional commitment of a 40-per-cent decrease, subject to getting access to low-cost financing, technology transfer and linkages to global carbon markets.
The country has liberalized its energy sector, and is looking for foreign partners to help finance a renewable energy boom, the adoption of clean-energy technology and the reforestation of its tropical rain forests. Several Mexican states have signalled their interest in joining the Western Climate Initiative, the California-Quebec carbon market that Ontario is in the process of joining.
With support from NAFTA partners and the UN Green Fund, "we could definitely commit to achieving the conditional reductions we promised," said Marcela Lopez-Vallejo, an international studies professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching Economics in Mexico.
Ms. Lopez-Vallejo was a co-author of a Canadian-American-Mexican report released this week that urged governments to reach a wide-ranging deal that would ensure effective carbon pricing throughout North America, slash methane emissions, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and protect the most vulnerable people – including indigenous communities – from the impacts of climate change.
Canada and the United States are pushing Mexico to join their bilateral commitment, announced when Mr. Trudeau visited Washington in March, to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent by 2030. A source close to the negotiations says there has been "major push back" from Mexico, which wants some assurances of assistance from its northern neighbours.
The climate change impact of methane is 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. It is emitted by the oil and gas sector as well as landfills and farm animal waste. North America accounts for more than 20 per cent of all oil-and-gas methane emissions.