MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised Monday to help the U.S. government push for stronger action on climate change.
Speaking at an event with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, López Obrador said that “we are going to support the plan President (Joe) Biden is promoting" ahead of a United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of the month.
Kerry appeared with the Mexican leader at a ceremony for Mexico’s tree-planting program, which López Obrador has touted as an answer to both climate change and migration. The program pays farmers a monthly stipend to plant and care for trees.
López Obrador has long wanted the United States to fund an expansion of the program into Central America, but the U.S. government has been hesitant because there is evidence some farmers cut down existing forest to get money for re-planting.
Kerry was also careful to avoid mentioning López Obrador’s fascination with fossil fuels. The Mexican leader is building new oil refinery capacity and favors government-owned power plants that burn coal and fuel oil.
Nor did Kerry mention the Mexican leader’s plan to limit electricity purchases from private, foreign-owned solar and wind power projects.
Experts say López Obrador's polices could endanger Mexico's compliance with existing carbon reduction commitments. The president contends plans to increase hydroelectric capacity will allow Mexico to meet those goals.
But Kerry praised the reforestation effort.
“Whenever I talk about the challenge of the climate crisis, yes, I talk about energy and energy choices,” Kerry said. “But I always talk about nature-based solutions.”
Kerry did say that a transition to electric vehicles would provide “a lot of good-paying jobs here in Mexico" because many U.S. automakers have assembly plants here.