Mexico launches National Strategy to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants for climate change, air quality and human health

by CCAC secretariat - 24 February, 2020
The strategy outlines concrete actions to reduce black carbon and methane from major sources. Implementing the strategy will achieve Mexico’s goal to reduce black carbon emissions by 51% in 2030 and substantially contributes to achieving its greenhouse gas reduction target.

Many of Mexico’s 129 million people are exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Despite substantial improvements in air quality in Mexican cities over the last 25 years, WHO estimated that in 2016, 29,000 premature deaths were associated with air pollution exposure.

At the same time, Mexico is at risk from climate change impacts on agriculture, and increased droughts and extreme weather events. To mitigate the climate threat, Mexico has, in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), committed to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22% in 2030 compared to a business as usual scenario.

Recognising the potential to achieve local air quality benefits, in addition to reducing the near-term rate of temperature increases, Mexico also committed to additional targets that reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) in their climate change commitment.

SLCPs are a group of pollutants, including black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), that have direct effects on air pollution and human health, and are also powerful atmospheric warmers. Mexico’s 2015 climate change commitment included the additional target of reducing black carbon emissions by 51% in 2030 compared to the business as usual scenario.

Mexico’s Integrated SLCP strategy to Improve Air Quality and Reduce the Impact of Climate Change was developed by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) and launched in December 2019. It identifies how these targets can be achieved through the implementation of 9 mitigation measures in 8 key source sectors.

Mexico: reducing pollutants that contribute to air pollution and climate change
Former Environment Secretary, Víctor Manuel Toledo, explains why Mexico is reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions to address air pollution and climate change. (Video recorded Sep. 2019)
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The full implementation of this strategy would reduce black carbon emissions by 51% in 2030, exceeding Mexico’s NDC target. Methane emission reduction would reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 9% in Mexico by 2030, substantially contributing to the goal to reduce total GHG emissions by 22% in 2030.

“Our National SLCP Strategy integrates both air quality and climate goals. Its implementation will improve air quality with multiple benefits for human and ecosystem health in Mexico and at the same time these actions will contribute to the international goal to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C.” said Dr María Amparo Martínez Arroyo, Director General of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) at the launch.

The major source sectors for black carbon in Mexico include transport, residential cooking, and sugar mills.  The main sources of methane are livestock and waste.  Actions to reduce emissions from these sectors include increasing the number of electric vehicles, and journeys taken on public transport; cooking using cleaner fuels and technologies to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution; and controlling particulate pollution from sugar mills.  

“Mexico’s National SLCP Strategy continues the progress already made in improving air pollution in Mexico,” said Dr Luis Gerardo Ruiz Suarez, Coordinator of Pollution and Environmental Health Quality at INECC. “In addition to reducing SLCPs, the Strategy would also reduce emissions of a range of other air pollutants, increasing the benefits for human health from its implementation.”

The development of the National SLCP strategy was a collaborative process involving a wide range of government and non-government stakeholders.

“Engaging stakeholders from across Government, and other groups, during the development of the Strategy was essential to define realistic targets.” Dr Arroyo said. “Their continued engagement will be even more important as we move to effectively implement the Strategy.”  

Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat, welcomed the new strategy saying:

“Mexico has always been a global leader in mitigating short-lived climate pollutants, especially black carbon and methane. First, by including a specific target to reduce black carbon in their climate change commitment, and now with the launch of a National SLCP Strategy that provides a clear roadmap for how these targets can be achieved. Importantly, Mexico’s SLCP strategy highlights the substantial contribution that methane reductions can make to achieving overall greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and all countries should consider similar actions to increase their climate change mitigation ambition.”

Mexico is one of 12 countries that is developing National SLCP Action Plans as part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Supporting National Action & Planning (SNAP) Initiative. The planning process in each country identifies the most effective actions that can be taken to simultaneously reduce air pollution and mitigation climate change.