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Mexico Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

Under current policies, including the expected impact of COVID-19, Mexico may reach its NDC target if it achieves the lower end of its current policy projections.18 However, Mexico’s NDC target, which translates to reducing its emissions by 5% below 2015, levels is not consistent with a domestic 1.5˚C compatible pathway.

Our analysis indicates that Mexico would need to put forward a new ambitious NDC target to reduce emissions by at least 38% below 2015 levels excluding LULUCF by 2030 to be 1.5˚C compatible. This would mean reducing emissions to 418 MtCO2e by 2030, compared to 638 MtCO2e under its current conditional NDC.

Long term pathway

When excluding LULUCF sinks, mid-century emissions in a Paris Agreement compatible pathway should then fall within the range of 50 to 122 MtCO2e/yr excluding LULUCF, equivalent to 82-93% below 2015 emissions.21 This stands in contrast with Mexico’s mid-century target to reduce GHG emissions by 50% below 2000 levels including LULUCF, translating into emissions levels of 279-324 MtCO2e by 2050 (or 52-54% below 2015 levels).3,4,5 Paris compatible pathways reaching a higher share of renewable energy by 2040 show less or no reliance on negative emissions technologies.

Some scenarios show a full decarbonisation of the energy sector as soon as 2040. The projections also suggest that agriculture and industry processes will be the last sectors to decarbonise.

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.


Mexicoʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
NDC (conditional)
NDC (unconditional)
Ambition gap
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
NDC (conditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 2015

Energy system transformation

Decarbonisation of Mexico’s energy mix under the most ambitious pathway requires unabated fossil fuel consumption to almost halve by 2030 compared to 2017 levels. As the Mexican economy continues to rely on oil, Mexico would need to plan a transition away from oil to avoid a carbon intensive pathways.1,9 To transition to a Paris Agreement compatible pathway, renewable energy needs to more than triple by 2030 from 8% of the total primary energy mix in 2017. However, the government has continued to stall the development of renewables, now using the impacts of the pandemic as justification.1


Mexicoʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

SSP1 Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
Low Energy Demand
201920302040205010 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
201920302040205010 000
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Mexicoʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Mexico. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Reference year
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
338 to 441
123 to 237
64 to 133
Relative to reference year in %
−50 to −34%
−82 to −65%
−91 to −80%
Total CO₂
180 to 314
−29 to 141
−42 to 32
2039 to 2064
Relative to reference year in %
−63 to −35%
−106 to −71%
−109 to −93%