México 2050: backcasting for a sustainable future
Tutor / director / evaluatorSegalàs Coral, Jorge
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
This thesis develops two future scenarios for the possible development of the energy sector within México in order to achieve sustainability. Despite the fact that sustainability encompasses too many dimensions within the possible lines of development, in this study is assumed as a state where society‘s actions do not compromise the needs of future generations. To be more specific, it focuses on energy consumption as way to achieve it. The rationale behind this study lies under the potential impacts that climate change may enhance for future society‘s development; which has been mostly driven by an increase in GHG atmospheric concentrations as a result of human activities throughout the last years. Of such activities, energy use is considered to be the major contributor to such increase by the burning of fossil fuels. On the other hand, energy has also been perceived as a key element in society‘s development by enhancing quality of life. México is no exception in such trends; whereas its energy sector is compromised in its majority by fossil fuels. Thus, if sustainability is to be achieved in the long term, actions must start as soon as possible. Hence that the overall aim of this study is to stimulate decision-makers and society in general to take insight into what changes may be required to achieve sustainability within the Mexican energy sector. For this, an 85%-50% reduction in CO2eq emissions from the overall energy sector in México by the year 2050 from the 2000 levels is proposed. Thence two future scenarios are created, the Business As Usual (BAU), which pictures what may happen if we continue to develop under current trends, and; one normative scenario done by a backcasting approach, which envisions a sustainable energy sector throughout the previously stated aim in order to introduce a set of possible strategies on how to attain it.
The overall aim of this study is to present a possibility of attaining a future which fulfills the requirements of a sustainable energy sector within México. But, what is considered a sustainable energy sector? In this research it will be interpreted as an 85%-50% reduction in CO2eq emissions from the overall energy sector by the year 2050 from the 2000 levels; whilst assuring a secure future energy supply available to everybody, due to the analogy previously made in sections 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4. During 2000, the associated emissions to the energy sector in México accounted for 387.33 MtCO2eq and 336.95 MtCO2 (60.18% from total GHG emissions). In this sense, and assuming an 85% emissions reduction in order to avoid the aforementioned impacts of a temperature rise by stabilizing CO2 atmospheric concentrations between 350 to 400 ppm, GHG emissions would need to be in the order of 58.1 MtCO2eq by 2050. If a 50% reduction is assumed, GHG emissions would need to be in the order of 193.66 MtCO2eq. The reduction target considered for this study will be left open between such range, so that the audience is free to decide which mitigation target is more appropriate depending on knowledge and driving forces that go beyond the scope of this study. On the other hand, assuring a secure and sustainable energy supply in the future allows energy to be accessible, which consequently is correlated to social development. This is due to the fact that Mexico heavily depends on fossil fuels to cover its energy needs; whereas the possible emergence of a peak oil crisis in the near future could be reflected in a limited energy access within the country. For this, two future scenarios are created, the Business As Usual (BAU), which pictures what may happen if we continue to develop under current trends, and; one normative scenario done by a backcasting approach, which envisions a sustainable energy sector throughout the previously stated aims and introduces a set of possible strategies on how to attain it. Thus, the purpose of this study is to present images of the future coupled with some recommendations on how to attain them departing from the present situation; in order to stimulate decision-makers and society in general to take insight into what changes may be required to achieve sustainability within the Mexican energy sector. On the other hand, decreasing GHG emissions contributes to the current global effort against climate change in order to attain global sustainability.