México’s Comisión Ambiental de la Megalópolis
On August 23, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced the formation of the Comisión Ambiental de la Megalópolis (Megalópolis Environmental Commission, CAME). This new body will succeed and replace the Comisión Ambiental Metropolitana (Metropolitan Environmental Commission, CAM), which currently comprises the Federal District and 18 municipalities in the state of Mexico.
The Metropolitan Environmental Commission was created in 1996 mainly to tackle Mexico City’s severe air quality problems, bringing together representatives from the federal environmental, transport, and health ministries and the local authorities of the Federal District and the State of Mexico. As a result, air quality improved significantly in Mexico City’s metropolitan area, although particulate and ozone concentrations are still above national and World Health Organization recommended standards. Now, federal, state, and local authorities are building on this success and have decided to grow the original CAM to include more states that have influence on regional air quality.
Scientists have long deliberated about a common airshed in Central Mexico, where atmospheric and geographical conditions suggest that regional air quality is determined by the emissions in all these states. Some studies have found that emissions in nearby Hidalgo might have an impact in high sulphur dioxide concentrations measured in Northern Mexico City, while others indicate that particulate and ozone concentrations might travel Southwest, across the mountains, to nearby Morelos. Hence, most municipalities in the surrounding states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Morelos and Hidalgo, and the remaining municipalities of the State of Mexico have been added to this organization.
Dr. Francisco Barnés Regueiro, former head of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, a strong supporter of ICCT activities in Mexico and an advocate for climate change mitigation, will be leading this new commission. In an interview after the announcement, Dr. Barnés stressed the importance of improving regional air quality, especially considering the fast economic and demographic growth of the states in Central Mexico in the past few years. He also indicated that harmonizing air quality monitoring and on-road emissions testing in all member states are top priorities in the new commission’s agenda. This is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of better fuels and better vehicles among State authorities in Mexico.