We are now in the Climate Decade. Even in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis and its far-reaching effects on health and economies, the urgent need to act on climate change has not gone away. If anything, it has become more acute as we look to build a better future that is both sustainable and equitable for all.
States and regions taking part in the Under2 Coalition’s Climate Footprint Project have taken this message to heart and have been working hard to develop and track their climate actions, while also considering how these actions might also support green recovery.
Working and adapting through crisis
Despite the practical challenges presented by COVID-19, the second round of the Climate Footprint Project’s technical assistance workshops took place in Mexico between May and July 2020. Rather than being held face-to-face, the team switched to hosting these virtually with the states of Jalisco, Yucatán and Baja California.
The training focused on a comprehensive approach to climate action that promotes mainstreaming climate issues into a variety of different economic sectors. This is particularly relevant at the current time, because sustainable recovery requires measures that both promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the creation of green jobs across all sectors.
How can we include green recovery
According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, government spending on renewable energy and/or energy efficiency creates roughly three times more jobs than spending on fossil fuels. Therefore, any action taken at state level to stimulate these sectors can go far. This can include the roll out and maintenance of renewable energy technology, energy efficiency investment - such as retrofitting of buildings and homes - the development of clean transportation, and nature and soil restoration.
During July’s workshops, officials from Jalisco, who are part of the mitigation group of the Interinstitutional Commission on Climate Change, were trained in identifying and prioritising mitigation actions and indicators that facilitate their monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) processes.
Similarly, in Yucatán and Baja California, officials and academics were divided into working groups (renewable energy and energy efficiency, transportation and agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)) to evaluate the feasibility of different mitigation actions and their indicators.
Each workshop included dynamic sessions where groups suggested and discussed possible new climate policies for their regions. However, one of the most important aims for each state government was to increase the technical capacities of different departments in terms of emissions tracking and reduction. This increased expertise will enable climate considerations to be factored into policies across government rather than just in environmental departments.
Linking emissions tracking to policy
Due to their geographic, social and economic characteristics, Jalisco, Yucatán and Baja California are very different. However, each state gained knowledge from the project workshops that can be used directly to inform their state climate policies.
For example, one of Jalisco's climate policy objectives is to achieve net-zero emissions in the long term. In order to meet this target, the government has ensured that officials from across different government departments are trained as inventory data providers and involved in the development of mitigation actions from the start to help build a decarbonisation pathway later on. For Jalisco, reforestation and conservation are two promising areas which could be linked to green recovery. By 2030, Jalisco has established the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation and deforestation by 90%.
In Baja California, the energy sector is key to economic growth but also a vital part of the region’s emissions reduction efforts. As well as being one of the states that has most heavily increased its installed capacity for renewable energy in Mexico, it also exports energy, mainly to California, USA. In that sense, the project has generated a partnership between the State Energy Commission and the Secretariat of Environmental Protection. This synergy has allowed the Secretariat of Environmental Protection to have easier access to energy data from the private sector, particularly data on projects and renewables, and also means the active participation of the energy sector in the project activities.
In Yucatán, the forestry sector plays an important role in coordinating the climate policy of the Peninsula which includes three states (Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo). According to the Peninsula’s Climate Change Strategy, an MRV system for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) actions should be developed for the region. Thus, Yucatán is currently updating their state inventory in order to empower the state to lead these actions, amongst other objectives.
Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, Baja California, Jalisco and Yucatán know that the advantages of implementing mitigation actions are not only limited to reducing GHG emissions but also include social and economic co-benefits, such as employment or improved health.
In addition, the states of the Climate Footprint Project now have the necessary technical knowledge to generate indicators for evaluating the progress and impact of their mitigation actions. This will aid them in securing national or international funding to expand these actions and generate new projects related to the mitigation of GHG emissions.