Heat wave causes homes to submerge in Mexico

Tabasco is one of the regions of Mexico hardest hit by this year’s heat wave.

El Bosque, Mexico:

Waves wash over abandoned homes that are slowly being swallowed by the ocean in a village in Mexico — a symbol of the impacts of climate change felt by major fossil fuel producers.

The school where Adrian Perez attended classes, in the El Bosque community of the southern state of Tabasco, is now in ruins.

Every time he passes by to catch fish, he is reminded of what has been lost to the sea.

“It’s tough. I studied there and look what happened,” the 24-year-old said.

“The climate is destroying us,” he said.

This year, heat waves have caused temperatures to soar across Tabasco and much of Mexico, fueling the debate over climate change as the country prepares for a presidential election on June 2.

According to environmental group Greenpeace, El Bosque is the first community in Mexico officially recognized as displaced due to climate change.

In February, the Tabasco state congress approved its relocation.

“We hear about climate change all the time, but we never thought it would come to us,” said Christy Echeverria, 34, who lost her home.

Global sea levels rose to their highest level on record last year, as oceans warmed and glaciers and ice sheets melted, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

About 700 people once lived in El Bosque, which is located on a small peninsula that extends into the Gulf of Mexico and is exposed to Atlantic storms and hurricanes.

The offshore rigs extract the oil and gas on which Latin America’s second-largest economy is heavily dependent.

Near the coast, the government of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has built a major new oil refinery in his home state, Tabasco — part of his efforts to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

– The records melted –

Tabasco is one of the regions of Mexico hardest hit by this year’s heat wave, with temperatures in the state reaching 40 °C (104 °F).

According to the government, 48 heat-related deaths have been recorded across the country since March.

Even Mexico City – which has traditionally had a temperate climate due to its altitude – recorded a temperature of 34.7 degrees Celsius on Saturday, the highest ever.

Due to severe heat last year and less than normal rainfall, there is a possibility of increasing water crisis.

According to the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, the average annual availability of water per capita in Mexico has already declined by 68 percent since 1960.

Despite international pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, López Obrador has promoted fossil fuel production during his six-year term to ensure energy independence.

The government says it is offsetting the impact by planting one million hectares of trees, in what López Obrador has called “the most important reforestation program in the world.”

Pablo Ramirez, a climate campaigner at Greenpeace Mexico, warned that “there is no public policy that can tackle the serious impacts of climate change, which are going to get even worse.”

– Clean Energy Plans –

Claudia Sheinbaum, the ruling party’s front-runner to replace López Obrador, has pledged to invest billions of dollars in clean energy while also supporting state-run oil company Pemex.

“We will promote the energy transition,” said Sheinbaum, who is a scientist by training and has been a contributing author for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to Pamela Starr, a professor at the University of Southern California, Sheinbaum would take a different approach than López Obrador when it comes to energy.

“She will encourage more active investment in clean energy,” Starr told AFP.

Opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Gálvez has said Mexico “must end its addiction to fossil fuels” and proposed shutting down some refineries.

Campaign promises offer no relief to Echeverría.

He said, “We are not responsible for whatever is happening, but we are paying the price for it.”

“We won’t be alone.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)