Mexico promises the US it will accelerate its path toward clean energy

Green energies topped the agenda in last Friday’s meeting between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the White House envoy for climate change, John Kerry.

The Mexican government presented the Sonora Plan to John Kerry, Joe Biden’s energy representative, a project to achieve the development of clean energy quickly. “A vision is shared to grow solar, geothermal, wind, and hydraulic energy. All of this is going to make the proportion of clean energy grow rapidly”, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at a press conference with Kerry at the end of the meeting. The man for climate change in the US described López Obrador’s proposal as “really powerful” and has celebrated the fact that a large part of the Executive is involved.

“The scope of the plans the President and his Cabinet have exposed has been impressive. Mexico is taking the initiative in the decisions that we all must make regarding the climate crisis,” Kerry said at the press conference that was held at midnight from the Government Palace in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora. Biden’s envoy arrived in Mexico this Friday afternoon from London, where he held an agenda of talks this week with a group of think tanks dedicated to the environment.

Kerry had already visited Mexico last February. At that time, the climate between the two governments was tenser due to the discontent of the United States towards Mexico’s energy policy. Within the framework of this meeting, both countries have been negotiating a series of disputes in the energy and automotive sectors for months during the consultations for the TMEC. the trade agreement that replaced NAFTA.

Both the Mexican president and the US ambassador, Ken Salazar, assured the days before the meeting that they wanted to prevent the dispute in the electricity sector from reaching an international panel and preferred to resolve it in negotiations. “An agreement is being sought, an arrangement, so that there is no confrontation,” López Obrador said on October 14.

Both governments assured this Friday that the meeting was “very positive” on this occasion. The López Obrador Administration focused on the steps he has taken and plans to take for the following year in the clean energy sector. “Pemex sold the advance of its methane gas capture program and other emissions reduction actions,” said Ebrard, who explained that by 2024 the oil company will be able to reuse 98% of the methane gas that is generated during the oil production. The Mexican government also presented a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a program to develop the semiconductor industry in the northern region.

“The president explained to Kerry why the Sonora Plan is so important, it is not only because lithium is going to be produced or because it has the largest solar plant, nor because semiconductors are going to be produced, but because everything works together. It will be a model to follow that will be replicated in other States”, explained Ebrard.

The US State Department had confirmed on Thursday the meeting in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, and had indicated in a statement that the objective was “to talk about bilateral cooperation and opportunities to improve Mexico’s nationally determined contribution, promote zero-emission vehicles, reduce methane emissions and increase investments in renewable energy”. The meeting took place a week before the start of the United Nations climate summit (COP27), which will take place in Egypt between November 6 and 18, where Mexico will present the Sonora Plan among its proposals to address the climate crisis.

The meeting site was not chosen randomly. Sonora has the largest lithium rock deposit in the world in a small town called Bacadéhuachi. In April of this year, the Mexican Congress approved a reform to the Mining Law that endorsed the State as the only actor that can exploit and produce lithium. Late in the year, when the dispute with the United States over differences in electrical matters over the TMEC was settling in, the Government of López Obrador announced the creation of Litio para México (LitioMx), the first state company in charge of exploration and production of the mineral. Exploration, criticized in many countries for the amount of water it needs, was one of the key points at Friday’s meeting.

Governor Alfonso Durazo had anticipated that the presentation of the Sonora Plan would occupy a large part of the agenda, a project through which Mexico seeks to develop the lithium industry and build five renewable energy plants. Also included on the agenda was the plan of the state Federal Electricity Commission to build the eighth-largest solar power plant in the world in the city of Puerto Peñasco, also in Sonora. “Works began in March 2022 and by February 2023 seven circuits will be completed in what will be the most important facility in Latin America for solar energy production,” Ebrard said.

By Georgina Zerega

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