Despite criticism for his energy model, the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, declared this Monday before the US special envoy for the climate, John Kerry, as an “ally” in protecting the environment and defended its electricity policy as the “cleanest”.
Kerry applauded Mexico’s reforestation plan but invited the Mexican government to turn its economy towards “zero emissions” of carbon dioxide by betting on wind and solar energy.
“Has President (Joe) Biden an ally in climate policy to tackle climate change. We are allies in the defense of the environment ”, declared López Obrador in a ceremony with the US official in the city of Palenque, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.
THE “CLEANEST” ELECTRICITY
The Mexican president has been criticized for his bid to strengthen the state oil company Pemex and his proposal for an electricity reform that relegates wind and solar plants from private and foreign companies.
But before Kerry, he stressed that the Government is modernizing 60 hydroelectric plants of the public company Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to produce “double” energy with water and “meet international commitments to clean energy.”
“We are going to continue promoting the generation of energy with water. The cheapest and cleanest energy is the one generated in hydroelectric plants ”, he argued.
And, although his government is committed to increasing crude production, he promised that Mexico “will not extract more oil than is needed for domestic consumption.”
KERRY INSISTS THE END OF EMISSIONS
John Kerry visited southeastern Mexico on Monday to observe the implementation of the Sembrando Vida reforestation program, with which López Obrador wanted to demonstrate his commitment to the environment.
This plan, which provides financial aid to farmers who reforest their land, has 395 million trees planted on 447,000 hectares in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo, and has benefited 180,000 people.
According to the Government, each reforested hectare captures 17.8 tons of carbon dioxide, although the opposition has criticized “inconsistencies” such as that some peasants burn their lands to reforest them and receive aid.
The US official applauded the Sembrando Vida program, which he defined as “a symbol of Mexico’s leadership in times when it is essential to take action on climate change.”
But he also urged the Mexican government to “take action in all sectors of the economy and move to a zero-emissions economy,” a transition that would mean a “change bigger than the industrial revolution.”
Specifically, Kerry stressed that the jobs that have grown the most in recent years in the United States “are wind energy technicians and solar panels,” two energy sources relegated in López Obrador’s electricity reform proposal, which should be still discussed in Congress.
“Scientists have clearly told us that if you want to slow the rise in temperature if you want zero emissions by 2050, they have to be cut between 2020 and 2030,” Kerry warned.
AN IMMIGRATION BET
In addition to serving to protect the environment, the Mexican government believes that the economic opportunities generated by the Sembrando Vida program contribute to curbing migration.
For this reason, Mexico is exporting its plan to Central America and López Obrador has asked the United States to finance it, even to offer work visas to farmers who plant trees.
Although Biden rejected the idea of visas, he thanked López Obrador days ago in a letter for the “financing and implementation” of the program in Central America and pledged to increase US “investment” in the region.
Kerry did not address the migratory aspect of Sembrando Vida, but López Obrador assured that “the United States Government also has the will to expand the program and confront the migratory phenomenon.”
“If you hope to get ahead, people stay and seek to be happy where they were born,” he said.
Kerry arrived in Mexico just over a week after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas were in Mexico City to redesign the security strategy between the United States and Mexico.