Mexico was once a climate change follower – now it's betting big on coal

Posted by freedomforall 5 months, 1 week ago to Business
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Sanity returning?

The men on the midnight shift smoked cigarettes and cracked jokes in the glow of their helmet lights as they prepared to go underground. They were loading safety equipment and coils of pipe onto wheelbarrows, in readiness for a second shift due to start working later that week.

“We’re reactivating the industry,” said Arturo Rivera Wong, who had just taken on 40 more workers at the mine he owns in the scrublands of the border state of Coahuila.

“Four furnaces at the big thermoelectric plant are going to be reactivated,” he explained. “This is going to kickstart coal sales.”

As the climate crisis worsens and clean energy prices plunge, governments around the world have been weaning their economies of coal and other fossil fuels.

Mexico is moving in the opposite direction.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as Amlo, has unveiled plans to buy nearly 2m tons of thermal coal from small producers like Rivera. He also plans to reactivate a pair of coal-fired plants on the Texas border, which were being wound down as natural gas and renewables took a more prominent role in Mexico’s energy mix.

Not only is López Obrador is betting big on fossil fuels, he is also curtailing clean energy.

The populist president has promoted a vision of energy sovereignty, in which state-run bodies – the oil company Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) – pump petroleum and generate electricity. Private players, which have heavily invested in clean energy, are relegated to a secondary role in López Obrador’s vision – while emissions and climate commitments are an afterthought.

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