Inclusiveness, innovation and cooperation: An interview on energy efficiency in Mexico with Santiago Creuheras Diaz

28 Sep 2017

What does energy efficiency mean for Mexico today? This broad question guided the IPEEC Newsletter’s interview with Mr. Santiago Creuheras Diaz, Director General of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER), and former Chairman of IPEEC.

Our conversation took place in late August, just as Santiago’s office was busy getting ready to host a major international event, the ‘Dialogues for the Future of Energy, Mexico 2017’ (DEMEX), on 11-13 September. “The aim [of DEMEX] is to spur a debate between the public and private sectors, the academic world and civil society, so that everyone can participate, interact and reach their own conclusions,” explained Santiago, speaking over the phone from his office in Mexico City. “[These views] would then impact the political agenda [not only] on energy efficiency [but also] on innovation and renewable energy, in Mexico and all over the world.”

Inclusiveness, innovation and international cooperation – these keywords effectively summarise Mexico’s approach to energy efficiency. The country first began to seriously address the question of sustainable energy use in 2008, when it adopted the eponymous Law for the Sustainable Use of Energy. But it was in 2013 that energy efficiency really stepped into the legislative limelight with the Energy Reform, followed closely by the 2015 Law on Energy Transition (LTE, as abbreviated in Spanish). The latter document officially defined energy efficiency as “all actions which lead to an economically viable reduction of the amount of energy necessary to satisfy the energy requirements of the population while maintaining or improving its quality of life.”[1] The LTE put in place a new regulatory framework and modern model of energy governance, geared toward ensuring that national energy resources are used sustainably. An example of this is the Advisory Council, which was set up to link the public and private sectors and facilitate dialogue in the implementation of the new law.

In tandem with these domestic developments, Mexico emerged on the international scene as an active participant in energy efficiency cooperation. In 2009 it created IPEEC with 14 other major economies. Five years later, it welcomed the beginning of energy efficiency collaboration in the G20, first with the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan and then the more ambitious G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme in 2016.

IPEEC's 12th Policy Committe (PoCo), in Beijing, China, June 2016

Perhaps tellingly, it was under Santiago’s chairmanship that IPEEC was mandated to coordinate the implementation of the first G20 plan. “International cooperation is fundamental for energy efficiency,” he emphasised. While not all energy efficiency programmes in all countries have been successful, Santiago observed that Mexico’s own successes are due to the exchange of best practices and experiences between countries. Through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, Mexico has been able to achieve greater results for energy efficiency, both in terms of profitability and social impact. Now, Mexico is taking what it learned internationally and introducing it to the city level, adapting lessons to fit local environments. To this end, the government launched a programme to help localities develop and implement energy efficiency policies, combining the fundamentals of policymaking, behaviour change, and sustainable investment.

The event Diálogos para el Futuro de la Energía de México (DEMEX), will be hosted in Mexico City 11-13 September

This last topic is something Santiago cares much about. As Co-Chairman of the G20-IPEEC Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group (EEFTG), he oversaw the publication of the group’s seminal G20 Energy Efficiency Investment Toolkit, which was welcomed by G20 Leaders at their Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. The Toolkit collects international best practices for financing energy efficiency and shares practical advice on how to scale-up energy efficiency investments in G20 economies and beyond. Santiago highlighted that without appropriate finance flows, energy efficiency cannot reach its potential, and so innovative mechanisms are necessary to direct resources. To further develop its own knowledge and capacity in this regard, Mexico will continue to cooperate with G20 countries, international organisations and development banks.

As we wrapped up our conversation, there was little doubt about what energy efficiency means for Mexico today. To listen to Santiago talk was to be reminded of the depth of his experience in policymaking and international politics. His belief in energy efficiency and the role of collaboration was heartening in these turbulent times. The world is at a crossroads, he pointed out, and all nations have important choices to make. Mexico’s road is clear: it will keep walking the path of the energy transition, leading and learning along the way.


[1] Ley de Transición Energética, http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LTE.pdf.