Beyond the Wall: Mexico Embraces Climate Change and Builds a Future with Clean Energy

North of the border, in the United States, the stakes are nothing less than the future economic, political, and environmental viability of the country.

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By: Jefferson Adams

The Wall Span
Beyond U.S. President Donald Trump’s bluster about building a border wall and sticking Mexicans with the bill, beyond his rebuke of the Paris Climate Agreement and pledges to embrace coal and fossil fuels, real problems and challenges beckon. Energy, its sources, its manner of production, its economic, social, political and health costs, its sustainability and its viability, touches deeply into every corner of life in every nation.

North of the border, in the United States, the stakes are nothing less than the future economic, political, and environmental viability of the country. That is also true for numerous other nations. Indeed, the very future of the planet is arguably up for grabs. In the face of such stakes, talk is cheap, and action is crucial.

In the same way that building a border wall is unlikely to solve the problem of undocumented immigration, pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is unlikely to solve the ever pressing issue of climate change. Reluctance to address the issue also means a steep, more expensive climb going forward.

If nations nations hope not only to survive, but to thrive in the next decades, their governments must find successful ways to deliver clean, renewable energy and the jobs that go with it.

And successful solutions, even at the national level, mean that these challenges must be met on myriad local levels, in states and counties and towns that make up the nation.

One additional challenge is that the problem is not static. We cannot simply build solutions around current energy demands. Successful solutions to climate change need to also address rising populations and rising energy demands over the next decades.

This is because, even on a national level, population rise occurs at multiple local levels. It occurs in the rapidly growing cities and metro areas that make up the states that make up the nation.

Mexico is a good example. To address the pressing challenges of climate change, and to meet its future energy demands at the national level, Mexico must move beyond simple energy reform; it must invest in sustainable energy projects, especially at the state and local levels.

In addition to large scale projects that provide clean, renewable energy, Mexico must preserve its national resources, help stabilize energy costs for consumers, and provide jobs and stability for its citizens.

Mexico is a natural solar powerhouse due to its privileged geographical position, so solar is a logical part of Mexico’s approach. The importance of local efforts in addressing the challenges of climate change and rising energy demands is perhaps best reflected in the state of Jalisco.

In Guadalajara, Jalisco’s largest and most rapidly growing metro area, the population and energy demands are set to rise steadily in the next decades. Already, increased energy demand has fueled a troubling rise in carbon dioxide emissions. This, in turn makes reaching climate goals that much more urgent.

That reality puts pressure on political leaders to act quickly. However, they also need to act smartly, by embracing solutions that work, and which provide a positive return on investment.

With the climate, population, and energy demand clocks ticking, Jalisco´s state governments are looking for ways to quickly and effectively deliver high impact projects that provide clean, renewable and affordable energy.

Led by incumbent Governor, Aristóteles Sandoval, Jalisco has begun working with administrations across Jalisco to establish a series of strategic public-private partnerships (PPPs) with leading companies in the sustainable energy sector.

Such partnerships allow the various state and regional governments to harness the expertise of successful companies within the energy sector to deliver high-impact projects quickly and efficiently.

An example of one successful PPP includes recent energy projects built with Fortius and Power. Working with the government of Jalisco and other regional administrations to invest in “renewable, low-carbon technology using Mexican-developed practices, Fortius has been able to build low-cost, efficient public lighting, and make clean energy available to more governments,” says main partner, Eduardo Riguero Escoto. Such efforts also help to promote a cleaner environment, better public health and a sustainable green economy that includes local jobs.

Through the PPP with Fortius and Power, Jalisco was able to expand the installation, maintenance and operation of 70,000 eco-friendly and energy efficient LED light bulbs for the public lighting system of Zapopan, the second most populated municipality that comprises Jalisco’s capital. The project creates “a smart, affordable eco-friendly infrastructure that will bring public lighting through sustainable power to Zapopan,” says Riguero.

“As Mexico prepares to meet future energy demands, it must invest in eco-friendly technology and sustainable energy projects that help stabilize the cost to consumers and make it available to a greater number of households,” adds Riguero. One of the reasons behind the PPP between Jalisco, Power Iluminare, SAPI de CV and Fortius Electromecanica, is to help both Jalisco and Mexico to meet that need.

The project in Zapopan was followed by the construction of Fortius’s Jalisco 1 solar park, dedicated to the production of photovoltaic (PV) energy, through which the company is harnessing solar power to generate. Fortius will soon add a second park, Jalisco 2, which will provide another 8 mega-watts of solar energy to Mexico’s power grid.

With their 16 mega-watts of combined solar power, Jalisco I and Jalisco II will eliminate 10 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere per year for at least the next 18 years.

Recently, F&P was selected as a Case Study for inclusive growth by the World Economic Forum.

Creating the smart, renewable energy grid of the future is key to creating economic, political and ecological sustainability. Look for Mexico and other nations to press hard to meet their targets under the Paris Accords, and to reap the rewards of the green energy projects they pursue now and in the near future.

Look for countries that lag to fall behind and be forced to play catch-up at their own peril. That includes the United States, which now risks falling into last place, as the only country in the world that is not officially working to meet Paris Climate Agreement commitments.

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