A new low-carbon Mexico

A new low-carbon Mexico

Giancarlo Strocchia
The Central American country is about to launch an energy "revolution", starting with its cities and transport systems to achieve the goal to halve its CO2 emissions by 2050

At the center of a strategy of transition to an energy model based on the low-carbon principle, there are increasingly more urban centers, only because more than half of the population reside there, producing approximately 80% of the global GDP and accounting for approximately 70% of the global energy demand. Moreover, by 2050, the urban population will grow to “cover” two-thirds of the world population, and the urban share of the global GDP will be approximately 85%. Accelerating the introduction of clean energy technologies for the urban environment and supporting changes in behavior among urban citizens can significantly free the link between growth in the consumption of primary energy and urban carbon emissions from the GDP and growth in population, while ensuring continuous access to end-use services. For instance, in the 2DS trategy, then the containment of the raising of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, primary urban demand for global energy can be limited to 430 EJ by 2050 (65% of the total primary energy demand), which accounts for less than a 20% increase since 2013, while the urban population is expected to increase by 67% and the GDP by 230%. An example that can be considered a “case study” with respect to how it is possible to implement a decarbonization plan for the energy production and consumption system within urban areas comes directly from Mexico. The country has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, compared with levels recorded in 2000, by embarking on an ambitious program aimed at accelerating the process of transition to the low-carbon model in all sectors.

Zero-impact transport and more government collaboration

Mexico is convincingly aiming towards the goal of containing the rise in temperatures to under 2° by introducing existing measures and technologies, which may also provide significant additional benefits, such as, for instance, reducing atmospheric pollution and decongesting traffic. A portfolio of technology options should help to halve CO2 emissions by 2050. The “sustainable” Mexican recipe will be possible, of course, only if local governments intensify their efforts to reach a better level of sustainability, including the reversal of development models that have led to excessive urban expansion. The energy demand relating to approximately 50% of the domestic transport system and to 75% of buildings comes from urban centers. Population growth and increased vehicles could strongly affect the levels of energy consumed, such as to double them by 2050 unless they are controlled. In such a scenario, CO2 emissions from urban buildings and from the transport system could suffer an increase of 80% by 2050. Since this may lead to harmful emissions caused mainly by means of transport and individual movement, it has been crucial, in order to reach the goals to minimize the effects of climate change, to plan a reduction in the demand for urban mobility, by radically changing the public transport systems and the circulation, in urban centers, of low-carbon emission vehicles. In this way, the plan aims to decrease CO2 emissions deriving from transport by 60% by 2050.

Mexico is committed to reducing, by 2050, CO2 emissions by 50% compared to the 2000 emission levels, taking on an ambitious transition process to a low carbon in all civil and economic sectors

More sustainable infrastructure, starting with social housing

An effective political action, such as that planned in Mexico, which is proceeding towards a low-carbon development, by exploiting the potential of urban decarbonization, would allow the country to “impose” sustainable models for implementing urban infrastructure capable of obtaining a more efficient use of energy. For example, the metropolitan areas located in warm climates or more temperate areas could experience an increase in social housing. From these areas, the plan is to start offering an example energy-efficient sustainable building. This strategy would allow for greater thermal comfort and, at the same time, much lower energy consumption and costs. Moreover, both federal and state governmental authorities are expected to encourage greater coordination with municipalities in order to block or reconvert plans for urban expansion that do not match the features of energy and environmental sustainability.