Ford, one of Mexico’s main car exporters last year, has just announced that in the near future they will be investing $1.3 billion in the Hermosillo Ford plant in Northern Mexico. This investment will lead to the employment of around 1,000 new workers on top of the 2,700 individuals already employed at the location. Ford’s plant in Hermosillo, Mexico will be dedicated to the increased production of its anticipated midsize 2013 Ford Fusion vehicule and its new Lincoln MKZ vehicle. The 2013 Ford Fusion, available in the fall, will represent a landmark in the progression towards sustainable transportation practices in Mexico.

The 2013 Ford Fusion will give buyers the option of picking between a plug-in electric hybrid version of the vehicule or the standard gasoline version of the vehicule. The hybrid version of the automobile will run on a lithium-ion battery pack. Although Ford has been producing their cars in Mexico for almost 90 years, this new investment will allow the country to efficiently produce their new electric powered hybrid models and their new luxury car models.The President of Americas for Ford, Mark Fields stated that Ford “is making a significant investment in this facility and a significant commitment to the employees here while also transforming our vehicle linup for customers throughout North America.” This trend of developing production centers in Mexico has also been adapted by Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Today, Mexico is one of the most prominent exporters of cars to the rest of the world and their position is on the rise. 

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Hermosillo

SolFocus and Grupo Musa have announced the construction of a CPV plant with a total capacity of 450MW in Baja California, Mexico. Construction is expected to begin in late 2012 and the project will be built in 50MW tranches. Commercial production is estimated to commence in late 2013.

SolMex Energy, a company founded by Grupo Musa and Synergy Technologies, owns and operates the solar power plant while SolFocus will provide CPV equipment.

The site for the plant near Tecate is owned by Grupo Musa and the realization of the project has been a co-operation between public and private businesses, especially ProMéxico and the Asian Pacific development corporation. Mexico is well known for generating wind energy and has now begun venturing into the generation of solar energy.

"The country wants to be sustainable," said Nancy Hartsoch, vice president of marketing and business development for SolFocus. "They currently don't have the best environmental footprint with their energy. They use a lot of oil. But certainly, I think the desire is there."

The power plant will be built in phases, with each phase capable of generating 50 megawatts of electricity. Once complete, the entire plant will cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion and produce up to 450 megawatts.

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Tecate

We’re approaching that special time of the year when the sea turtles of the Riviera Maya come to the shores to bury their eggs in the sand. With this comes the announcement by Grand Vidana, - Mexico’s leading developer of luxury resorts, gulf courses and real estate - that they‘ll be sponsoring an event designed to aid in the conservation of endangered sea turtles species. The event, organized by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, will run from June 21 through June 24, 2012, at Riviera Maya, Mexico. 

Marine biologists from the Sea Turtle Conservancy will attach tracking devices to mature turtles as they come to shore to lay their eggs, with the goal of tracking the turtles’ movements. The guests from all of Grupo Vidanta’s Riviera Maya hotels - which include Grand Luxxe, the Grand Mayan, Mayan Palace and The Bliss – are invited to be spectators to this event. 

Once the tracking devices are attached, the turtles become participants in the Tour de Turtles.  The tour - which started in 2008 - in and educational event designed to follow the migration of 15 different species of sea turtles, over the course of approximately 3 months.  The “winning” turtle is the one that travels the most miles during the three-month period. 

Scientists know that turtles are highly migratory, but until recently research has only tracked their behaviors on nesting beaches. Since over 90 percent of their life is spent in the water, it’s important to conduct this research to understand their migratory habits, their behavior at sea, where their marine habitats are located, how they use these different habitats, and the migration routes traveled between habitats. 

You can follow the progress of the turtles on www.tourdeturtles.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/conserveturtles

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If you are looking for a unique approach to travel and community service, well then voluntourism through a program like Projects Abroad might be the adventure for you. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad is on of the largest volunteer organizations in the world sending over 8,000 people abroad each year. 

In Mexico, Projects Abroad offers two distinct opportunities for volunteering abroad. The first out of Guadalajara, and the second - aka the “Conservation Program – is off the Pacific Coast about two hours from Guadalajara in the town of Tecoman. Each of the programs is unique and offers their own set of cultural and sightseeing opportunities. 

The Guadalajara Program can run from one to four months and offers volunteers the opportunity to participate in projects like teaching, childcare, cultural and community work, medicine and healthcare, journalism, and animal rehabilitation. Volunteers in this program live with host families, which are an essential par of the experience. Mexicans are very family-oriented and the host families are known for involving the volunteers in their large family gatherings. This provides volunteers with numerous and invaluable opportunities to learn Spanish and become emerged in the Mexican culture. 

"My family was absolutely wonderful and I had a fantastic time with them. They were very kind and took me to loads of places and made me feel really welcome."

Elizabeth Allison, Teaching in Mexico

"The opportunity to work with Mexicans in an entirely Spanish-speaking environment gave me so much more of an insight into their culture than if I’d just been traveling."

Julia Banwell, Journalism in Mexico

Participants in the Conservation Program stay at the “turtle camp”. The accommodations are basic and adventurous, providing volunteers with everything they will need including a kitchen, flushing toilets, showers, and lots of modern tents. The program, which focuses on environmental development, affords volunteers the chance to work with experts on conservation and environmental projects to protect turtles, crocodiles and birds in the state of Colima. It is well suited for families and only requires a minimum commitment of one week. 

 “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the turtle camp out in the middle of nowhere, but as time went by I fell in love with it more and more each day. I’ve always loved the countryside, but with the nearest village or town 40 minutes away, this was the real thing. Words do no justice to the views and scenery out there, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I never thought I’d wake up in the morning, step outside and have a cowboy ride over to see how things are going.”

Jim Kelly 

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Mexico is changing the way the world sees garbage, as Mexico City is set to turn millions of tons of waste into energy. The project, which officially began in December 2011, calls for capturing biogas from the solid waste at the city landfill to produce fuel or to generate electricity.

In this last decade, Mexico City has become a leader in sustainability and has been rapidly adopting green technology. For instance, a composting program reduced the amount of trash handled at dumps by 2,800 tons daily and produced mulch for streets and parks. Now, Mexico City officials have been working for the past three years to cut the amount of waste that ends up at municipal dumps. That goal was accomplished when Mexico City’s landfill, considered one of the largest in the world, was closed after being in operation for 26 years after its energy potential was discovered.   

Waste-to-energy facilities have been popping up all over the world, as countries are discovering the energy potential in garbage. Not to mention, many waste-to-energy facilities improve recycling rates and greatly reduce carbon emissions.  This facility will help reduce about 1.4 million tons of CO2, the gas blamed for global warming

Mexico City is expecting to start producing electricity from this facility within the year.   

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Mexico City

When scientists fired a “cigar-sized” satellite tag into a western gray whale off Russia’s Sakhalin Island in September, they expected to track her along Asia’s Pacific shoreline down to the South China Sea. To their surprise, the young female turned up off of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

The Mexican Government has registered a record number of gray whale calves in the waters off the coast of Baja California Sur, which it says is due to improving water conditions and government preservation policies.

Since 1996, the whale count is at its highest, when a total of 2,721 gray whales were counted by environmental authorities.

Between 2007 and February 2012, the government estimates that approximately 3,553 gray whales were born in Mexican waters.

“It’s a scientific event — a big one,” said Randall Reeves, a marine mammal expert and a member of the global Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel.

To get to Mexico, Reeves said, Varvara had to cross the Okhotsk Sea off the Siberian coast, navigate up Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, strike out across the huge and deep Bering Sea far from any coast, and into Alaskan waters. Once there, the whale would have migrated to Baja along the North American shoreline.

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Algae oil extraction technology developer OriginOil has signed a commercial agreement with algae producer Aquaviridis to work on a multi-phase algae production rollout at a facility in Mexicali, Mexico.

Under the agreement, OriginOil will provide its expertise to help develop growth and harvesting solutions and implement appropriate OriginOil technologies. The Mexico facility is being developed as a potential model for algae sites throughout the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, with a focus on desert areas of the American Southwest and Mexico.

Minnesota-based Aquaviridis is backed by private sector funding, with plans to immediately scale up from research and development to ten acres of pilot algae production by the middle of this year. Commercial scale production capacity is expected by the second quarter of 2013. Aquaviridis selected the Mexicali Valley as a strategic location due to favorable growing conditions, strong local and governmental support.

“The Mexicali Valley is a great place to develop an algae industry, given its climate and access to industry research and resources throughout North America,” said OriginOil vice president of marketing Ken Reynolds. “With the U.S. as a neighboring market for high value exports, Mexico is in an excellent position to take the lead in areas such as research and algae production for nutritional products, animal feed, and oil for biofuels, which would create long-term regional economic growth and job production.”

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Mexicali

During her recent visit to Mexico City, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, Marta Dassù stated that Mexico is becoming a profitable economic market for Italy. More and more Italian businesses, both big and small, are interested in investing and trading with Mexico because of favorable market conditions within the country. This is projected to fortify diplomatic relations between Mexico and Italy. At the Italian Embassy in Mexico, Dassù met with influential individuals in the entrepreneurial sector of the economy, including representatives from Enel Green Power and Ferrero. In addition, Under-Secretary Dassù recently attended the G20 Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico on February 19-20.

The G20 meeting in Los Cabos, organized by the Mexican Presidency, provided a forum for discussion on the increasing imperativeness of peaceful diplomatic relations in regards to sustainability, climate change, energy efficiency, and the importance of renewable natural resources. Furthermore, with the creation of the new Italian-Mexican Business Council, favorable diplomatic relations between the two countries is expected to continue and strengthen. Mexico and Italy are committed to working together in cooperation on many environmental, political, and economic issues.

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Mexico City

Since the days of colonization, Mexico’s position as a leading global sugar producer has influenced their cultural history, politics, and economy in a drastic way. Sugar, once referred to as “White Gold” is an imperative staple of Mexican culture and is Mexico’s largest agricultural industry today. Furthermore, Mexico is the sixth most prominent sugar producer in the world. With the increased amount of rainfall in sugar growing areas in Mexico this year, next year is anticipated to see a significant boom in sugar harvests. More rain has begun to appear in the western regions of Mexico as well as along the Gulf of Mexico where many sugar plantations are located. An end to drought conditions in Mexico can prove to be beneficial for not only the sugar industry but also the agricultural economy as a whole due to the crop’s massive influence on Mexican society.

Optimistically, Carlos Blackaller, the president of the National Union of Sugarcane Growers explained, “The rains that are falling in the sugar-cane producing states will benefit the cane that will be harvested next year.” Blackaller predicts that Mexico should produce around 5.1 million tons of sugar in the next season if favorable climatic sugar conditions continue to appear.

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According to Leopoldo Rodriguez, the president of the Mexican Wind Energy Association, a recent study indicates that total installed wind power capacity in Mexico could reach nearly 12,000 megawatts by 2020. If the country stays focused on achieving this goal, this would account for nearly 15 percent of the country’s electricity. 

"Should that goal be achieved, the wind energy industry could become one of the 10 main recipients of investment (inflows) in Mexico," Rodriguez noted recently at the WindPower Mexico forum in Mexico City. 

At the forum, Rodriquez emphasized that new investments could add US$13 billion to Mexico’s GDP and could generate up to 45,000 jobs in energy and supplier industries. Additionally, wind energy development could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23 million tons.

Having previously discussed the rapid pace at which Mexico is developing wind energy, Rodriguez noted the importance of creating long-term goals to consolidate these gains at the WindPower Mexico forum.

With the forum attracting national and international experts, Rodriguez and others hope to put policies into place to make the predictions of the study a reality.

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Jorge Lopez, ProMexico's North American Regional Director, talks about Mexico's huge investment in various types of renewable energies, including wind, solar, and biothermal energies.

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To continue fighting climate change, Mexico and the United States recently announced the formation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a new international coalition to reduce emissions of common pollutants that contribute to rapid climate change and widespread health problems. Sweden, Canada, Ghana, and Bangladesh are also members of the coalition.

Target emissions to be reduced include methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide, as well as soot and hydro fluorocarbons that contribute to climate change.

Drew Shindell, a senior climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute on Space Studies, said in a The New York Times article that “attacking short-lived climate agents could have immediate impacts.” Additionally, the president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development Durwood Zaelke said that the initiative, if expanded and adequately financed, would have more impact on the climate than the United Nations climate change negotiations, at least in the near term.

The coalition will be funded with US$15 million. In the next months, specific actions will be determined on its plan to reduce emissions as well as specific targets.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will run the coalition. On a recent report, UNEP identified more than a dozen steps that could be potentially pursued by the coalition, and if executed, the rate of global warmth could slow by half a degree Celsius by 2050. 

The coalition’s efforts in reducing short-lived pollutants are not meant to replace efforts on reducing carbon emissions, but rather will be complementary to them.

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Mexico’s commitment to creating renewable energy through wind power is evident, with the nation recently reaching a capacity of 1,000 megawatts of installed wind energy. 

The development of wind farms continues to grow, with the North American Development Bank (NADBank) and Border Environment Cooperation Commission having recently received certification and secured financing for a 54-megawatt wind energy farm in Reynosa, Tamapulipas.

“NADB is pleased to participate in this important project that will contribute to clean energy generation and is part of Mexico’s efforts to combat climate change,” said NADBank Managing Director Gerónimo Gutiérrez.

This is the first-ever bank-funded wind energy project in Mexico. The farm itself, Ejido El Porvenir, will be developed and operated by Compañía Eólica de Tamaulipas, S.A. de C.V. (CETSA). Consisting of 30 wind turbines with a capacity of 1.8 megwatts each, the electricity produced will be purchased by Mexican retailer Soriana. 

Ejido El Porvenir is anticipated to improve air pollution in Mexico, displacing more than 90,976 metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1,442 metric tons of sulfur oxide and 189 metric tons of nitrogen oxides of pollutants during each year of operation.

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Reynosa

In November 2011, environmental leaders from around the world attended the COP17 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Fernando Tudela Abad, the undersecretary of environmental policy and planning at the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, was one such expert at the conference. 

In an interview with AlertNet, Tudela emphasized Mexico’s stake in climate change negotiations, as the country itself is vulnerable to the effects of climate change – including floods and droughts. Last year, Mexico experienced its worst drought in 70 years, which affected nearly 70 percent of the country’s terrain. 

Mexico has long-been dedicated to improving its environmental stewardship. For example, the country is credited with successfully resurrecting the Mexico the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the COP16 in Cancun, Mexico.

In concert with this, Tudela highlighted a recent study endorsed by the government, called “The Economics of Climate Change in Mexico,” which stresses the need for Mexico to move to a low carbon, resilient economy. Specifically, the study indicates that “climate change has and will continue to have significant impacts on the Mexican economy and details impacts on a variety of sectors including agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and public health.”

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The green initiative ‘Reforestamos Mexico’ (Reforesting Mexico) was born in 2002, focusing on conservation projects and the revival of natural capital through reforestation of natural protected areas of Mexican land. Nearly one-third of all Mexican territory is covered by forests and the reforestation of Mexican jungles and forests are essential for the development of Mexican territory. ‘Reforestamos Mexico’ is committed to ensuring that forests and jungles are kept green and that the right measures are implemented to strengthen social capital. 

The value of Mexican forests is shown by the millions of dollars it generates each year. As nearly 95 percent of forests belong to small owners, part of the ‘Reforestamos Mexico’ initiative focuses on closing the gap between rural and urban sectors and promoting the right conditions that will foment green business practices as well as fair business practices. 

‘Reforestamos Mexico’ proposes five courses of action that aim at increasing Mexico’s competitiveness, social and ecological sustainability, and making sure that strategic and key players are involved in reforestation initiatives across the country. Click here to read more about the actions behind Reforestamos Mexico. 

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