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Latin America can become obscured by the booming economies (and vehicle markets) of China and India, not to mention the United States. But Brazil is the fourth largest national auto market in the world and an important factor in the global biofuels industry. Mexico is also a major global market, and the region as a whole has a key role in the global energy economy.
In Mexico, the ICCT works closely with the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT, the regulatory body charged with setting vehicle emissions standards), and with the Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE), which provides technical analysis on environmental policy issues, to support the government’s goal of developing national vehicle standards comparable to global best practices. In August 2011 we signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the Comisión Nacional para el Uso Eficiente de la Energía (CONUEE) to support development of fuel economy standards for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as standards for used vehicles. Despite previous regulatory setbacks, the ICCT expects that Mexico will implement comprehensive emissions standards within the next 3-5 years.
As yet Brazil has no vehicle fuel efficiency standards in place. In collaboration with the Instituto de Energia e Meio Ambiente (IEMA), the ICCT is working to set the stage there for development of sound fuel economy and CO2 national standards. Brazil’s sugar cane-based ethanol fuel industry is a model for sustainable industry, though some experts contend that the unique combination of sugar cane as a feedstock and abundant agricultural land make it impossible to replicate elsewhere. Innovative transportation programs such as Curitiba’s bus rapid transit system contribute to improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but the country’s heavy-duty truck fleet is dominated by vehicles that run on high-sulfur diesel, preventing the use of up-to-date pollution control technologies. The ICCT is actively supporting work to address Brazil’s unique fuels situation and promote best practices for controlling emissions from heavy-duty vehicles.
By comparison to both Brazil and Mexico, Chile is a small transportation market. Yet it has an effective and innovative approach to regulation, and is actively considering implementation of a "feebate" system of rebates and fees to create incentives for efficient vehicles and technologies. The ICCT is working in Santiago with the Centro Mario Molina to support development of that feebate program—which would be the first such program to be implemented before vehicle emissions standards are in place, and could set an important precedent for developing countries worldwide—and to help inform Chile's overall approach to vehicle regulation.