On COP27 & Latin America’s Gen Z
These days the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP27) is taking place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Two weeks of discussions at the highest level on climate change, public policy, technological advances and international commitments with the inalienable goal of achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2050.
An important part of the discussions this year have focused on the so-called “loss and damage”, the costs that vulnerable countries bear disproportionately due to climate change, particularly associated with natural disasters. While industrialized countries more or less efficiently exercise a series of changes to the law and public policies to move towards net-zero, developing countries protest the opportunity cost in their economies of having to implement green energy and other measures, while negotiating million-dollar compensation from those who lead the climate change narrative.
The US returns to the table expressing its commitment linked to the stimuli incorporated in the Inflation Reduction Act, optimistic of achieving its goals by 2050, while Africa as the host continent is present in all this discussion. Latin America and Mexico in particular are conspicuous by their absence (or their irrelevance).
We see in an official photo Marcelo Ebrard embraced by John Kerry, restoring Mexico’s commitments to the Paris Agreements, with the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, and up to 40% if it receives international support. However, in the same week, the Reforma newspaper reported on the burning of natural gas in Pemex oil wells as a consequence of the lack of gas storage systems and adequate infrastructure, a practice that is already punishable in Europe and that has a huge impact on methane emissions.
Even more serious, all of the energy policy in Mexico today is based on the production of gasoline in the existing refineries, from heavy oil that leaves a highly polluting fuel oil as a residue, today prohibited throughout the world, and that nevertheless is burned in CFE power plants. Meanwhile, another refinery is being built, Dos Bocas, which, despite its structural problems, will continue to burn heavy oil with devastating effects on the environment.
Several international organizations, both public and private, have already outlined a path to achieve zero emissions in the global economy. Developed countries are allocating immense resources to convert their electricity generation into renewables, electrify their means of transportation, transform their food systems, recycle and preserve their natural resources… Mexico and Latin America must urgently join this movement beyond the words, with strong actions that make up for the lost time. If this change is not driven by authority, it will still come, driven by private initiative. Today it is good business to think about sustainability.
The Mexican economy has very valuable resources for this fight for the environment; forests, jungles, and oceans that we must preserve; the opportunity to capture carbon and make offsets with reforestation programs; the privilege of having a sunny country with winds both on the coast and on the Isthmus and other areas with enormous wind power potential… Above all, Mexico has a deeply entrepreneurial culture that has been renewed and sophisticated in recent years, and that can be directed initiatives of the so-called #climatetech in a very short time.
A new wave of social enterprises with purpose is coming, with long-term significance, fighting humanity's greatest challenge. Mexico and Latin America will not be spectators. They have the weapons and the talent to be on the front lines and contribute to the great achievement of this generation Z. If public policy is not aligned with this mission, it will lose the greatest opportunity to connect with the new generations, who are very clear about it.