MEXICO CITY – The 2013 energy reform and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement are hindering Mexico’s efforts to deal with climate change and defend its vulnerable population, as well as reducing protection for affected communities and impacting the environment, an economics and sociology expert told EFE on Tuesday.
In the newly-crafted NAFTA agreement, which includes an energy chapter and this week is in the final stage of renegotiation, delegations from Canada, the US and Mexico have established measures in accord with their respective needs, Alejandro Alvarez Bejar said.
“It was done to benefit industry and not sectors vulnerable to energy exploitation,” said the author of the chapter titled “Mexico: Welcome to your fossil fuel future” within the document “NAFTA 2.0: For people or polluters?” an environmentally-focused review of the modernization of the treaty, which went into effect in 1994.
Alvarez said that the biggest problem dealt with in the chapter is that “the US government is the entire NAFTA energy project engine.”
The main world power “now is seeking energy supremacy and to completely deregulate the Mexican energy system, and open it to foreign industry,” the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) economics professor said.
The text was written in conjunction with Frank Ackerman and Ben Beachy of the US and Gordon Laxer of Canada, all of them economic experts, published by the US Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Mexico and made public in April.
“If NAFTA incorporates a chapter on energy and puts in all the rules from which Mexico was (exempted), then we’ll see greater inability of the Mexican government to implement the commitments on climate change,” he added.
As part of the 2015 Paris Accord on climate change, Mexico promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent by 2030, but “the country is not on track to reach that objective,” Alvarez said.
Mexico’s emissions increased by 85.8 percent between 1990 and 2013, with transportation and electricity generation the main sources of the hike, according to government figures.
The National Strategy for Climate Change estimates that the annual economic impact on Mexico was 730 million pesos (about $38 million) between 1980-1999 and 21.95 billion pesos ($1.144 billion) between 2000-2012.
Although Mexico “is trying” to comply with its climate change commitments by transitioning to renewable energy, NAFTA facilitates a counterproductive dependence on fossil fuels, especially natural gas, which was responsible for 45 percent of Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2013, Alvarez said.