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Mexico City's First Elected Female Mayor Sets Her Sights on Smog

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Mexico City’s first elected woman mayor won’t take office until December, but she’s already taking measures to clean up the city’s air.

Environmental scientist Claudia Sheinbaum, who won the election by a large margin in July, is already taking steps to reduce particle contamination by 40%, reported Reuters.

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"What we are proposing, and we want to do this even before we enter government, is to have a meeting ... with the major automakers," Sheinbaum said in an interview with Reuters, adding that she will approach embassies of major automaking powers first. "From there we want to generate a new standard for new vehicles, that allows new vehicles to be less and less polluting."

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Mexico has fallen behind in emissions standards for new vehicles, according to Sheinbaum, and the costs for hybrid and electric vehicles that are currently inaccessible to most consumers in the country.

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The city has also faced legal barriers to such changes in the past.

Toyota and Mexico's auto industry sued the Mexican government in 2012, noted Reuters, in an effort to block proposed regulations to align fuel efficiency standards with those held by the United States.

But if anyone is suited to take on such a monumental task, it’s Sheinbaum.

As a researcher, her career has centered on energy science and engineering — with a focus on vehicle emissions and climate change mitigation, noted Science magazine in an earlier report. A member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and a former member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), her work is respected both in her country and abroad, according to the report.

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The experience has prepared her well for policymaking, say supporters.

"Training in physics makes you always look for the root causes. Why is something happening? That's fundamental for politics," Sheinbaum told Science magazine. "And then engineering is much more focused on the ‘how.’ How can I solve it?"