Mexico's Senate has unanimously passed a climate change bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, following Britain in creating legally binding emissions goals.


The law -- approved late Thursday and which still needs to be signed by President Felipe Calderon -- seeks to promote policies and incentives to reduce carbon emissions, decrease the use of fossil fuels and make renewable power more competitive.

It will set up a National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change to coordinate efforts from various ministries as well as a fund for efforts at tackling climate change.

It also seeks to encourage citizens to help conserve Mexico's environment.

The senators underlined how the country of 112 million was already experiencing the effects of climate change, including a record drought in many areas this year and heavier and more frequent rains in other regions.

The law was welcomed by environmental groups, amid concerns about Mexico's ability to enforce legislation.

"It's something that out of necessity we have to apply... We hope that Mexico will keep being a leader on climate change," Juan Beazaury, Mexico representative for The Nature Conservancy environmental organization, told AFP.

Calderon has made the global fight against climate change a key theme of his six-year presidency, due to end this December.

Mexico was 13th in the world for producing greenhouse gas emissions between 2009 and 2012, according to the bill.

In 2009, the United States attempted, unsuccessfully, to pass a similar climate change bill.

[Photo of a Mexican farmer in his drought claimed ranch via AFP Photo/Jesus Alcazar]