Mexico’s General Law on Climate Change: Key achievements and challenges ahead

In 2012 Mexico became the first large oil-producing emerging economy to adopt climate legislation, the General Law on Climate Change. Adoption of the Law has been an important step in advancing Mexico’s efforts to address climate change. Significant progress has been made in operationalising and implementing the Law over the past five years. However, implementation challenges remain.

This study assesses the impact of the General Law on Climate Change to date and draws lessons learnt for Mexico and other countries that are currently developing climate change legislation. The authors establish the main achievements of the legislation, outline where expectations have not been met, and set out the main opportunities and challenges. The assessment is based on interviews with officials and experts who have been actively engaged in Mexico’s climate change debate and policymaking since the creation and adoption of the Law. Their views are complemented by analysis of previous studies on Mexico’s climate policy.

Key messages

  • Mexico has been an active player in international efforts to tackle climate change for the past 25 years, helping to advance international climate change negotiations.
  • However, Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and it has an influential fossil fuel sector.
  • Mexico adopted the General Law on Climate Change in 2012, and a 2018 decree brought its domestic emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • The Law sets institutional foundations, and long-term it has improved the quality of political debate around climate change and has advanced the low-carbon energy transition.
  • However, challenges remain, related to relate to the Law’s design, institutional and financial capacity, and the political will to act.
  • When the new administration takes power on 1 December 2018 it needs to translate technical, regulatory and scientific knowledge into concrete actions to implement the Law.
  • More clarity is needed over institutional mandates, as well as a comprehensive climate finance strategy and stronger evaluation and accountability mechanisms.

This work was produced as part of the project Climate change legislation in the UK and Mexico: lessons for climate governance. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the European Climate Foundation in support of this project, which is part of a wider collaboration run by ECF, with Ecologic and IDDRI.