Monday, April 22, 2013

Mexico City's Plan Verde

Mexico City’s Plan Verde (Green Plan), launched in 2007, got one of the largest and most polluted cities in the world to lower their greenhouse gas emission by 6.28 tons between 2008 and 2011. The capital city received massive acclaim when they proposed to lower their greenhouse gases by 7 million metric tons by 2012. Nearly to their goal in 2011, the city continues to introduce measure to lower GHG emission, reduce traffic and preserve water.

An article in Smart Planet states that the transportation sector in Mexico City totaled 44% of the total GHG emission in the capital. With the implementation of clean burning, ultra low sulfur diesel BRT buses and the expansion of the Metrobus system, they were able to reduce emission by 5.3 million tons. Along with their improved and sustainable bus transit system, Mexico City also implemented a bicycle-sharing program, Ecobici, with more than 90 stations and 35,00 registered users in 2011.

The city also made it a priority to create more pedestrian-friendly walkways and plazas, remove cars from narrow streets and implement parking meters (parking used to be completely free in the city), all to curb vehicle use around town and lower congestion. Their efforts to remove low capacity passenger vehicles, replace taxis with more efficient vehicles, plan for a new subway line and implement No-Drive days and Bicycle-Riding days made Mexico City the recipient of this years Sustainable Transport Award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Mexico City hopes to continue their efforts to lower GHG emissions. Mexico City’s Minister of the Environment, Martha Delgado, discussed an effort to implement mandatory public transit for grade school students for the largest schools in the city. Although cooperation among citizens and the government have been strong during the Plan Verde initiative, many people are still skeptical of allowing their young children to ride public transit run by the government. She stated that they were working with the community to find a solution that could work for all parties.

A key factor to the success of the Plan Green initiative was government investment in the project. Mexico City invested $1 billion a year to the Climate Action Program and it took nearly 20 agencies working together to make the plan a reality. Mexico City’s plan was also successful through the help and involvement of citizen participation, non-profits and NGOs.

Not only is Mexico City inspiring other large congested cities to attempt to curb their own congestion and greenhouse gases, but in 2012, Mexico, itself, passed legislation calling for a 50% reduction in carbon emission by 2050. They are only the second country in the world to pass climate change legislation.

As cities around the world, primarily in Asia, attempt to replicate the overwhelming success of Mexico’s climate plan, it will be interesting to see if the United States attempts to lower their high carbon emissions in the coming decade. 


  1. Wow - the success of this plan demonstrates just how quickly GHG emissions can be significantly reduced. I'm curious if you have any insights on how Mexico found the political will to invest so heavily in this initiative and the subsequent passage of climate change legislation?

  2. Mike, from what I gather, Mexico City had a very dynamic and respected Mayor, Marcelo Ebrard (in office from 2006-2012), who made it his priority to clean up MC of corruption and changing the city's physical appearance.

    Here is an article about his background and work as mayor.


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