By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan the United Nations ahead of a key climate summit in Paris in December.
Mexico's Foreign and Environment Ministries presented the national climate submission in Mexico City, unveiling a strategy to begin reducing emissions by 2026, leading to a 22 percent reduction in greenhouse gases below business-as-usual levels by 2030.
Mexico set its targets unconditionally, without requiring financial support from developed countries.
After Mexico unveiled the targets, President Enrique Pena Nieto and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new joint climate policy task force to "further deepen policy and regulatory coordination in specific areas" including vehicle fuel efficiency, appliance standards and electricity grid modernization.
The White House praised Mexico for being the first major emerging economy to submit its national strategy to the United Nations. The United States is expected to submit its own plan early next week.
"Mexico is setting an example for the rest of the world by submitting an INDC that is timely, clear, ambitious, and supported by robust, unconditional policy commitments," the White House said in a statement.
Mexican Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade said he hopes the UN climate summit in Paris will help the world meet a UN goal to avoid a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperatures.
Originally, the hope had been that many countries would accept a U.N. invitation "for those ready to do so" to submit their national plans by March 31, leaving time to compare and perhaps toughen them before Paris.
"We now expect many, many more countries to submit their INDCs over the coming days, weeks and months," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Secretariat.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Alan Crosby)