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What is Mexicoʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

In brief

This is a summary of the most important findings of our analysis. Get a brief overview over the most important figures and entry points into the various parts of the in depth analysis.

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Ambition gap

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Mexicoʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−150 %−100 %−50 %0 %2000202020402060123456
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
  1. 1
    1.5°C emissions level
    −43 %
  2. 2
    NDC (conditional)
    −5 %
  3. 3
    NDC (unconditional)
    +15 %
  4. 4
    Ambition gap
    −38 %
  5. 5
    Net zero GHG incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
  6. 6
    Reference year
Key messages

Mexico’s NDC targets (conditional and unconditional) have remained unchanged as of their 2020 update. However, business-as usual projections of emissions to 2030 have increased, resulting in a decrease in ambition of its NDC, even though the reported target has not changed. Mexico’s conditional NDC corresponds to an absolute emissions level of 638 MtCO2e/yr by 2030 excluding LULUCF, equivalent to 5% below 2015 levels and is conditional on access to financial, technical and capacity building support.1,2

1 Climate Action Tracker. Mexico. CAT September 2020 Update. (2020).

2 Government of Mexico. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. (2015).

3 Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) & Gobierno de México. Estrategia Nacional de Cambio Climático. Informe CICC (2013).

4 SENER. Prospectiva del Sector Eléctrico 2017-2031. (2017).

5 Government of Mexico. Mexico’s Climate Change Mid-Century Strategy.(2016).

6 Climate Transparency. Mexico Country Profile. (2020).

7 Climate Action Tracker. Mexico: Climate Action Tracker (Sep 2020 Update). (2020).

8 US EIA. Mexico. (2020).

9 Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Diario Oficial de la Federación. Ley de la industria eléctrica. (2014).

10 Cámara de Diputados del H. Congreso de la Unión. Diario Oficial de la Federación. Ley de Transición Energética. Diario Oficial de la Federacion 1–31 (2015).

11 Climate Action Tracker. Mexico | Update Target Tracker. (2020).

12 Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Ley General de Cambio Climatico. Diario Oficial de la Federacion Mexicana (2012). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-67666-1_8.

13 Government of Mexico. Compromisos de Mitigación y Adaptación Ante el Cambio Climático para el Periodo 2020-2030. (2015).

14 Gobierno de Mexico. Contribución Determinada a Nivel Nacional de México: Actualización 2020. (2020).


16 México proyecta generar 50% de energía limpia en 2050. ONEXPO Nacional. (2017).

17 CONAFOR. Estrategia Nacional para REDD+ 2017-2030 (ENAREDD+). 6 (2017).

18 Climate Action Tracker. Mexico: Update Spetember 2020. (2020).

19 Tornel, C. Petro-populism and infrastructural energy landscapes: The case of Mexico’s Dos Bocas Refinery. Nord. Geogr. Publ. 49, 6–31 (2021).

20 LULUCF assumptions are based on the Climate Action Tracker assessment on Mexico, assuming a level of LULUCF emissions ranging from Mexico’s NDC BAU to the unconditional NDC.

21 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

In order to align with 1.5°C compatible pathways, Mexico would need to reduce its domestic emissions by a minimum of 43% below 2015 levels excluding LULUCF, equivalent to 383 MtCO2e/yr in 2030.

Under current policy projections, Mexico may just barely reach its unconditional NDC target.1

Mexico’s midcentury target to reduce GHG emissions by 50% below 2000 levels including LULUCF is not compatible with a 1.5°C trajectory.3,4,5 This translates to emissions levels of 279-324 MtCO2e by 2050,20 when a 1.5°C compatible pathway would require the country to limit remaining GHG emissions levels (excluding LULUCF) to between 50-122 MtCO2e by 2050 or 82-93% below 2015 levels.21

Across all Paris compatible pathways, the net zero year is achieved by significant reductions in the energy, industry, and waste sectors.

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Key messages

Carbon intensity of Mexico’s power sector would need to decrease from 425 gCO2/kWh to 60-100 gCO2/kWh by 2030, and reach zero by 2040. Mexico’s power sector target to achieve 40% “clean” electricity by 20343 is incompatible with the 76-91% renewable energy share by 2030 it would need to be 1.5°C compatible.

Decarbonisation of the power sector could be made possible by phasing out coal and gas by 2028 and 2038-2040, respectively. However, the current administration has recently passed regulation favouring fossil fuel generation, citing impacts from the pandemic, and has cancelled upcoming renewable energy auctions.1

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Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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Current targets
Required targets
  1. 2030 76 to 91% Renewable share
  1. 2039-2040 Zero emissions power
  1. 2040 98 to 100% Renewable share