A rare opportunity to improve the health of Mexico’s environment and economy

12/4/2017 Environmental Defense Fund

This post originally appeared in Spanish on El Universal.

Not often is a pollutant referred to as an environmental and economic opportunity. But that’s exactly what methane is for countries looking for cost-effective climate solutions and a way to prepare for the 21st century energy economy. And it’s especially important for Mexico right now, as changes in energy laws have opened the doors to a slew of new exploration projects that could reshape Mexico’s oil and gas industry and boost economic growth through 2025.

Methane is the main ingredient of natural gas. When burned, natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels. But when it escapes unburned, as it does across the global oil and gas industry, methane is 80 per cent more powerful a heat-trapper than carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane also contributes to local air pollution, including smog, and the health impacts that come with it. It’s not just countries that are aware of this. A growing number of investors and energy companies are responding to the reputational threat of uncontrolled methane emissions.

Released last week, the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook articulates the methane challenge very powerfully. Its analysis shows that with current technologies the oil and gas industry can drastically reduce methane emissions by 75 percent worldwide – and that up to two thirds of those reductions can be realized at zero net cost. What’s more, the IEA says that just the cost-effective reductions would have the same climate impact in 2100 as immediately closing all the coal plants in China.

Read the full article on EDF’s Energy Exchange Blog…



Ditching NAFTA Not in America’s Best Interests

10/28/2017 Houston Chronicle

By Earl Anthony Wayne

Texas has the most to lose of any U.S. state if NAFTA talks go wrong. It has a great deal to gain if the talks to modernize NAFTA go well. Now that the negotiations have slowed over controversial U.S. proposals, Texans and their elected federal and state representatives should be making very clear to the Trump administration team overseeing the NAFTA negotiations that they should do no harm to the massive Texas-Mexico trade relationship, and rather focus on creating new opportunities.

The controversial U.S. proposals and hardball tactics, however, could freeze the talks or send them off the tracks. A decision to pull out of NAFTA, as President Trump has threatened, could cost 250,000 to 1.2 million U.S. jobs, according to one 2017 study. A failed NAFTA negotiation would endanger many thousands of Texas jobs, the state’s largest foreign client and cooperation along the border.

Texas trades $178 billion a year with Mexico. That is more than the entire United States trades with any single country in Europe. It translates into over $20 million of trade each hour: Things are bigger in Texas!

Read more…

As Mexico Earthquake Aid Mounts, Many Fear It Will Be Diverted

09/11/2017 New York Times

Brett Gundlock for The New York Times

JUCHITÁN DE ZARAGOZA, Mexico — Concepción Rueda Gomes has been collecting food and supplies since Mexico’s strongest earthquake in living memory struck her hometown, Juchitán, last week. But when it came time to distributing the aid she turned to private agencies for help.

“There was no way I was going to give away the help we raised to some local official or leader so he can just hand them out to his friends and family,” Ms. Rueda, 50, a jewelry designer, said at her home in Juchitán, where volunteers were loading up three trucks with food, water and blankets.

Read more…

Death toll now at 90 as aftershocks rattle southern Mexico

09/10/2017 Daily News

Source: ABC News

Life for many has moved outdoors in the quake-shocked city of Juchitan, where a third of the homes are reported uninhabitable and repeated aftershocks have scared people away from many structures still standing.

The city on Sunday was littered with rubble from Thursday night’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, which killed at least 90 people across southern Mexico — at least three dozen of them in Juchitan itself.

Read more…

New Publication | Building on Early Success: Next Steps in U.S.-Mexico Educational Cooperation

By Angela Robertson and Duncan Wood

USA and MexicoLaunched in 2014, the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) seeks to “expand opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation to help both countries develop a 21st century workforce for both our mutual economic prosperity and sustainable social development.” It aims to promote binational cooperation in higher education and research, especially regarding important areas for innovation in the United States and Mexico, by promoting programs for student mobility, academic exchange, research, and innovation in areas of common interest to contribute to the competitiveness of the region.

Cultural and educational exchanges help to create connections between the people and institutions of the United States and Mexico via exchange programs, scholarships, grants, and joint research.  Increasing educational exchanges and strengthening workforce development and innovation, particularly in STEM areas, will allow the United States and Mexico, and North America as a whole, to compete in global markets. Thus, FOBESII has the potential to build a more prosperous future for both the United States and Mexico.

Nonetheless, this short paper argues that, while FOBESII has done much to expand educational exchanges, increase joint research, and promote innovation, it has yet to achieve its stated goals and continues to face serious challenges. We argue that to overcome these challenges, future initiatives must focus on advancing private sector engagement, workforce development, and improving public communication and outreach. FOBESII continues to be a relevant and important initiative, but it is in urgent need of restructuring and redirection if it is to make a significant contribution to bilateral affairs and regional competitiveness.

Read the paper…

As NAFTA Talks Restart, Canada and Mexico are Unfazed by Trump’s Threats

8/31/2017 Foreign Policy

The second round of talks for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement is set to start Friday in Mexico. Since the conclusion of the first round, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the trade agreement. How, then, are U.S. neighbors dealing with the impending round two?

Just fine.

For one thing, while public opinion in the United States toward NAFTA is split, Canadians and Mexicans are in general agreement that the deal is good for their countries.

Read more…

[VIDEO] Renegotiating NAFTA Round Two

After what has been described as a tough round one in Washington, the process of renegotiating NAFTA is set to move to Mexico for round two. Beyond the negotiating table, President Trump continues to suggest that he may choose to withdraw from the agreement all together. Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood summarizes the state of the negotiations and provides analysis on what we can expect next. That’s the focus of this edition of Wilson Center NOW.


Duncan Wood, Director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, is a “North American citizen,” lecturing and publishing widely in the United States, Mexico and Canada on intracontinental issues and relations, with a primary focus on U.S.-Mexican ties. A widely-quoted authority on energy policy, international banking regulation and corruption, he works closely with the World Economic Forum and leverages decades of experience at Mexico’s leading universities and newspapers.

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.