Paris Agreement targets
Mexico submitted its updated NDC on 30 December 2020: its targets, both conditional and unconditional, remained unchanged compared to the first NDC. However, the BAU associated with these targets has been revised upwards in the NDC update, with a total emissions level in 2030 higher than that reported in the 2016 NDC, which we used in our previous assessment (September 2020). Given the NDC is defined as a percentage reduction below BAU projections, a higher emissions level in 2030 effectively reduces the country’s mitigation ambition in absolute levels, even if the reduction targets remain unchanged.
Mexico’s failure to increase its 2030 mitigation ambition is contrary to the Paris Agreement’s requirement that each successive NDC should present a progression on their mitigation efforts. This sends negative signals to the international community that Mexico is not serious about its commitment to fulfil the Paris Agreement climate goals and that it does not understand that a fair contribution requires higher emission reduction rates.
In its updated NDC, Mexico commits to unconditionally reduce its emissions by 22% below a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario by 2030 and up to 36% below BAU, conditional on receiving financial, technical and capacity building support.
The updated NDC is also less transparent than the original 2016 submission, which makes assessing the level of ambition more difficult. In the original 2016 NDC, Mexico included a sectoral breakdown of the BAU as well as a breakdown of each sector’s contribution to achieving the unconditional target. The updated NDC only contains the sectoral breakdown for the BAU. The revised BAU reports slightly lower numbers in 2030 for the transport, power and oil & gas sectors while projecting higher 2030 emissions for the agriculture, industry, and waste sectors.
Similarly, for the land sector (i.e. land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)), the 2016 NDC projected sector emissions under BAU to stay at constant levels until 2030, and to become a small sink as part of achieving the unconditional target. The updated NDC projects a growing emissions contribution from this sector under BAU, and no estimates were provided as to its expected contribution under the unconditional target. The LULUCF contribution to the target’s emissions reduction is a key element for our analysis and can substantially impact our results (for more information, see the assumptions section). Overall, the new BAU scenario estimates an increase in emissions of almost 2% in 2030.
Mexico’s updated NDC reports emissions levels in 2030 using Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) from the IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5) which we converted to GWPs of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Our calculations of the emissions level for the NDC targets, excluding LULUCF emissions, is:
- Unconditional target: 774 MtCO2e in 2030 (previously estimated at 763 MtCO2e)
- Conditional target: 638 MtCO2e in 2030 (previously estimated at 625 MtCO2e)
The updated NDC has expanded the adaptation section to be much more prominent than in the previous submission. During the public consultation process, the changes and advancements in the adaptation component took a central role, while discussions on the unchanged mitigation targets were limited. A target of net zero deforestation rate by 2030 is included as part of the “Conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services” section in the adaptation chapter.
The updated NDC makes no mention of a net zero target, nor Mexico’s commitment to reduce emissions by 50% below 2000 levels in 2050 which was referred to in its first NDC submission and in its “Climate Change Mid-Century Strategy” submitted in 2016. This is not in line with the Paris Agreement temperature goals and Mexico should transition to a target of net zero emissions in the second half of the century.
Black Carbon and Mexico’s NDC
Mexico’s NDC includes a target to reduce black carbon (BC) emissions, which has substantial co-benefits for human health. However, reductions in black carbon are generally not additional to reductions in CO2 emissions, because large fractions of black-carbon emissions stem from the same emission sources as CO2. Emissions reduction policies therefore often reduce CO2 and black carbon simultaneously, and this is already included in calculations of the emissions reductions in greenhouse gases required to hold warming well below 2°C globally, such as the “emissions gap” and “fair share” reductions (see next section on Fair Share).
From the climate perspective, however, there is no established scientific method to compare the climate benefits of black-carbon reductions to those of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. In the AR5, the IPCC does not provide calculations of GWP for BC comparable to those provided for greenhouse gases, merely noting the inherent difficulties in doing so and limiting itself to just displaying estimates from the pre-AR5 literature. While Mexico’s NDC specifies a metric to compare BC with CO2 (GWP of 900), this is based on a single literature source (pre-dating IPCC AR5), which itself notes the very large uncertainties of around 100%.
The CAT rates Mexico’s internationally supported target as “Insufficient” and its fair share target as “Critically insufficient”.
We rate the conditional 2030 reduction target levels as “Insufficient” when compared modelled emissions pathways. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that the target needs substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Mexico’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C. Our rating system suggests that Mexico should receive limited international support to get on a 1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible pathway.
We rate Mexico’s 2030 NDC target as “Critically insufficient” when compared with its fair-share contribution to climate action. The “Critically insufficient” rating indicates that Mexico’s fair share target in 2030 reflects minimal to no action and is not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. Mexico’s target is not in line with any interpretation of a fair approach to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. If all countries were to follow Mexico’s approach, warming would exceed 4°C.
Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled pathways and fair share) can be found here.
Last NDC update
Mexico submitted its updated NDC on 30 December 2020: its targets, both conditional and unconditional, remained unchanged, while its emissions projections under business-as-usual (BAU) continue to increase. This reduces the country’s mitigation ambition in absolute levels. The failure to increase its mitigation ambition for 2030 does not comply with the Paris Agreement’s requirement that each successive NDC should present a progression beyond the current one.
Net zero and other long-term target(s)
Mexico does not have a net zero target. In November 2016, Mexico submitted its “Climate Change Mid-Century Strategy” to the UNFCCC in accordance with the Paris Agreement (Government of Mexico, 2016). With this strategy, Mexico pledges to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 50% below 2000 levels in 2050, leading to emissions levels of between 276 – 321 MtCO2e excluding LULUCF, by 2050. See Assumptions section for more details.
Under the Copenhagen Accord, Mexico “aims at reducing its GHG emissions up to 30% with respect to the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario by 2020, subject to the provision of adequate financial and technological support from developed countries as part of a global agreement." Currently implemented policies are not projected to meet this target.
According to our calculations, Mexico’s pledge translates to 630.2 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF by 2020; however, Mexico’s emissions excl. LULUCF in 2017 were already reported at 725 MtCO2e excl. LULUCF, significantly over the 2020 pledge levels. Thus, we predict Mexico will most likely not achieve its 2020 pledge, despite the expected dip in emissions due to the COVID19 pandemic.