By now, everyone is aware of the legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan in the United States. Well, Mexico also has a new environmental law (albeit one passed by their Congress, which is far more functional than ours). It is called the Energy Transition Act. The Act:
- Mandates a clean electricity portfolio standard of 5% this year, rising to 25% by 2018, 30% by 2021, and 35% by 2024, 45% in 2036 and 60% by 2050, with clean energy being defined as emissions less than 100kg of carbon per MWh*;
- Creates a market for clean energy certificates to meet the standard, which will be auctioned off beginning in 2016;
- Adds some small mandates for rooftop solar and other distributed power sources;
- Strengthens the Comisión Nacional para el Uso Eficiente de la Energía (CONUEE) by giving it the power to fine public entities and local governments (but will not set mandatory standards for the private sector).
This is a good law, but it ain’t bringing the revolution. First, consider this picture:
OK, that picture is of the Monument to the Revolution, and has nothing to do with this post, other than the word “revolution”. (But it is a good picture!) No, I mean consider this picture, from page 10 of the original bill:
Yup, electricity from fossil fuels is still expected to rise. It is probably a good thing that natural gas will replace fuel oil, but that depends on how much methane escapes into the atmosphere during the course of production and commercialization.
Second, remember that only 21% of Mexico’s greenhouse gas production comes from electricity generation. (See page 60 for the 2006 estimate.)
And finally, the steel lobby has already managed to get an injunction against the law! You can read their policy arguments here. (Yes, they are bad arguments.) But they are now arguing that the law is unconstitutional.
I am not a lawyer (IANAL!) but I do not think that their case will hold up. Still, for all our differences, we share so many similarities with our southern neighbors, and throwing political disputes into the courts is one of them.
(Our courts work better, but at least Mexico has a national legislature that, you know, legislates.)
* Yes, Mexico is already at 24%. The law will not bind until 2018.