60 Second Interview
Mario Molina, Nobel Prize Winner and Environmental Spokesman
1) How important are renewable energies in Mexico’s future?
Renewable energies are vital for Mexico’s economic development: first of all, the Mexican supply of fossil fuels is limited and is already declining. Perhaps more importantly, Mexico is playing an international leadership role in confronting climate change, and has already made commitments to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, the development of renewable energy sources is of great importance to the country.
2) How should the government involve themselves in, and support, renewable energy production?
The Mexican Government should provide incentives for the development of renewable energies: besides fiscal incentives, it should modify norms and regulations to facilitate, for example, the integration of such energy sources to the grid. The main utility company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), is government owned and controlled, and hence has the capacity to plan and implement the use of renewable energy sources working in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy (Secretaría de Energía, SENER).
3) How does Mexico compare internationally?
Mexico is only beginning to implement the use of renewable energies. Wind energy sources, for example, are being rapidly developed, but have yet to reach their potential. Other sources such as solar and biofuels are further behind, although plans do exist for their expansion.
4) To what extent has public response to climate change altered since you first began working in the field?
In the United States the fraction of people that consider climate change a serious issue that needs to be dealt with has decreased in recent years, thanks to a well-planned and well financed public relations campaign aimed at discrediting climate change science. I am not aware of any reliable surveys in Mexico on this question; my impression is that the number of people well informed on the subject is not large, but has probably increased in recent times.
5) How do you think the Mexican public feels about the environment, and what power do they have to affect government policy?
The Mexican public in general does worry about the environment, but not many are actively involved in activities aimed at protecting it. On the other hand, I believe the public does have a fair amount of power to affect government environmental policy.
6) In many cases environmental causes, and specifically renewable energies, are moving more slowly in developing nations, how do you think this issue can be lessened?
The use of renewable energies in developing countries can be promoted by improving communication with decision makers in government, and perhaps more importantly, by carrying out reliable technical and economic studies that demonstrate the advantages of appropriate renewable energy policies, and by involving decision makers in government in the implementation of such policies.