New Mexico, the Enchanted State, is home to 2 million people and its 121 thousand miles include deserts, mountains, forests, and rivers. First colonized by Spain and, it became a US territory in 1853, and finally a state in 1912. The Pueblo peoples have lived in what is now New Mexico continuously for over 1000 years, and today Pueblo lands span over eight counties and more than 2 million acres.
Extreme heat presents an urgent threat to New Mexico and, along with it, droughts and wildfires. By the end of this century, summers in Carlsbad Caverns National Park are projected to be 13 degrees hotter. The number of days per year with dangerous levels of heat is expected to double in New Mexico, which has the second highest child poverty rate in the country. With warmer temperatures, demand for water will increase while its availability will decrease. Like the direct health effects of extreme heat, water insecurity will affect the most vulnerable the most acutely. Native communities, in particular, face extremely dangerous conditions as 30% of the people on Navajo Nation must haul water to meet their daily needs. This is yet another example of the fact that those who have contributed the least to climate change are most acutely impacted, a phenomenon that like colonization, many have argued, constitutes genocide.
The industrial sector and transportation sector account for the vast majority of New Mexico’s net energy consumption, ranking in the top 25% of states according to per capita use. The residential sector, by contrast, ranks in the bottom third of states by per capita consumption. New Mexico is one of the top natural gas producers in the US, and in 2018 accounted for 4% of the country’s natural gas production. New Mexico has three active coal mines that collectively account for 1% of the total mined coal in the US. Within the state, coal continues to be the main source of electricity accounting for, in 2018, 40% of New Mexico’s electricity, the first time that it had been below half. The potential of wind and solar energy in New Mexico is extremely promising, and wind energy accounted for almost a fifth of the state’s electricity use in 2019.
In May of 2019, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act, which set a path for the state to transition away from coal. The ETA set a state-wide renewable energy standard of 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 80% by 2040. In 2019, New Mexico’s Interagency Climate Change Task Force presented initial recommendations for statewide climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The report focuses on greenhouse gas reduction, public health, emergency preparedness and management, and water availability.
New Mexico is one of twenty four states, plus Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors, created in 2017, committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.