Embarq’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-Mexico) has played a leading role in the implementation of the federal government’s Public Transportation Federal Support Program (PROTRAM).
On the heels of successful sustainable transport implementation in several key Mexican cities, the federal government’s creation of PROTRAM in 2009 signaled an important shift toward strong institutional support for nationwide sustainable mobility. PROTRAM offers grants to subnational governments for up to 50% of the infrastructure cost of public transportation projects. As the first program that provides federal funding for urban public transit, PROTRAM is a critical component of the mainstreaming and replication of sustainable transit systems across Mexico.
CTS-Mexico has served as the government’s main advisor in implementing PROTRAM effectively and improving the quality of its projects. The Secretary of the Treasury and Public Credit appointed CTS-Mexico to evaluate the technical and financial feasibility of public transportation projects seeking funding from PROTRAM. In this role, CTS-Mexico developed project evaluation guidelines that allow for rapid analysis of each project, and is responsible for continuous high-quality operational and financial reviews. CTS-Mexico is uniquely positioned to reconcile competing interests and offer objective, forthright advice.
CTS-Mexico has reviewed a total of 21 projects and positively influenced the design quality of eight projects now in the investment phase -— in Guadalajara, Mexico City, Chihuahua, Mexicali, Tijuana, Culiacán, Monterrey, and Veracruz. One of these projects, the second line of Guadalajara’s BRT, has been funded by PROTRAM and is now under construction. The other seven projects are confirmed in PROTRAM’s financing pipeline and are moving forward toward implementation. By providing project evaluation guidelines and assistance, CTS-Mexico has not only improved the efficacy of each project proposal submitted, but also strengthened PROTRAM’s institutional capacity to provide funds in the future.
Specifically, INFONAVIT connected CTS-México to the mid-sized city of Aguascalientes to transform a new low-income housing development, encompassing 10,000 houses for 40,000 people. CTS-México recommended solutions for mixed land use, public transportation, green spaces, and walking and bicycling.
In March 2010, the municipal government revised its development plans to include about 70 percent of CTS-México’s recommendations. The new design is expected to increase the neighborhood’s demand for public transportation, biking and walking. And the level of social interaction is expected to quadruple through the addition of four community centers and a 1.5-kilometer pedestrian-cyclist road. Dense development connected to mass transit can help reduce carbon emissions and lower urban infrastructure costs.
The redesigned development plan is estimated to reduce traffic speeds by 34% and also increase the demand for public transport by 30% to 60%, bike trips by 4% to 50%, walking trips by 24% to 40%, and green space by 5% to 30%.
Legislation by national governments to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is essential to achieving a low-carbon economy and improved public health worldwide.
In 2012, Mexico took the historic step of enacting a comprehensive climate change law. The groundbreaking legislation commits Mexico to cut its GHG emissions by half by 2050 and prominently features sustainable transport initiatives.
EMBARQ Mexico played a major role in shaping the law, proposing measures for mass transit, fuel efficiency, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and restrictions on high-polluting vehicles—all of which the government included.
Setting a Precedent for Global Climate Action
When a government signals its seriousness about combating climate change by passing legislation, it promotes the country’s transition towards a competitive, sustainable, and low-carbon economy. It provides a precedent for other countries to follow suit, and gives a boost to the U.N. international climate negotiations.
Mexico’s groundbreaking law makes it one of the first countries to adopt ambitious and comprehensive legislation on climate change. Enacted by President Felipe Calderón, the General Law of Climate Change seeks to guarantee citizens’ right to a healthy environment. The law will unlock substantial federal funds for low-carbon development and will prompt new regulations to mitigate GHG emissions.
In a major departure from the international climate negotiations, the bill’s measures for reaching the 2050 emissions goal include transforming transportation systems and infrastructure. Mexico’s president worked across party lines at the federal, state, and city levels to win agreement on the policies needed to meet the bill’s ambitious targets.
Making Change Happen: WRI’s Role
EMBARQ Mexico was designated as the transport expert to review the draft bill when it went before Mexico’s Senate and make specific policy recommendations.
We proposed key sustainable transport measures that were included in the final law, including the development of sustainable mass transport systems and improved infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. The bill also includes our recommendations to develop new fuel-efficiency standards for light and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as regulations restricting imports of high-polluting vehicles.
EMBARQ’s prominent role in the legislation stemmed from our work in helping Mexican cities to introduce sustainable transport systems, as well as our national policy research demonstrating the importance of sustainable transport as a climate-mitigation strategy.
Measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) across different sectors is no easy feat. But creating a national inventory of GHGs is one important step for countries to take toward managing them. Starting in 2014, many developing countries will begin providing more frequent updates to their national inventories under guidelines from the COP 17 Durban Platform. How can they best meet international reporting requirements and, more importantly, use the development of their national inventory systems to support domestic low-carbon growth?
In a new set of case studies (see the text box) we have documented experiences from Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, and South Africa—countries that have already made notable efforts to develop robust national inventory systems. Each study explores critical aspects of these countries’ inventory processes and provides lessons that could benefit other countries looking to further develop their own systems.
3 Attributes of Successful National Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Although each national inventory system is unique, the case studies reveal several common attributes of successful inventory improvement. Here are three:
The Role of International Climate Finance in Creating Readiness for Scaled-Up, Low-Carbon Energy
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The need for action on sustainable transport has never been more apparent than it is today. The world’s population is expected to reach a whopping 9.8 billion people by 2050, with about 70 percent of these people residing in cities. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are on the rise. Transportation contributes 13 percent of global emissions, spurring climate change and creating dangerous air pollution.
Sustainable transport—like public transport systems, bicycling lanes, and walking—has the capacity to save lives, reduce energy use and GHG emissions, facilitate access to goods and services that support sustainable development, and enhance the overall quality of life in cities. While the need for sustainable transport has long been accepted in some parts of the world, it is now gaining momentum globally. Cities, which are so important to the global economy, play a key role.
A Critical Moment for Sustainable Transportation
Multi-lateral development banks (MDBs) signaled a paradigm shift when they committed $175 billion for sustainable transport over 10 years at the Rio+20 summit this past June. While the funding comes from resources already allocated for development, this commitment represents the first time that MDBs have earmarked dollars of this magnitude for sustainable transport. This financial commitment can help leverage the impact of investments in transport infrastructure, which already account for more than $1 trillion a year globally. It can also support work at the national level, as well as cities’ historic leadership on transportation.
We are now presented with a chance to truly embrace sustainable transport at the local, national, and international levels. It’s imperative that we capitalize on the opportunity presented by this unprecedented alignment of wills.