So it’s out with gas-guzzling Formula One cars and in with zero-emission trains after the Mexican government announced it would pull funding for the country’s Grand Prix to bankroll a new tourist railway.
The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, told local media this week that there would be no more federal funding for the Mexican Grand Prix beyond this year’s event in October, putting the future of the meeting in doubt.
The government pays a reported 400 million pesos (15.2 million USD) annually to host the race, which is thought to bring in around 14.8 billion pesos (£500 million USD) in spending and media rights. However, from next year those funds will instead go towards a controversial infrastructure project known as the Mayan Train.
Conservationists have major concerns about the environmental impact of the railway, which is set to run through Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, the second largest expanse of tropical forest in the Americas, after the Amazon. Estimates suggest a third of the railway will cut through wildlife-rich jungle, which would have to be cleared to make way for the tracks.
Mexico is home to an estimated 12 per cent of the world’s biodiversity, but its forests and mangroves are being cleared at an alarming rate. Conservationists claim the railway would exacerbate deforestation, heaping more pressure on species such as jaguars, which are classed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The railway, which will use hydrogen-powered trains, is also projected to cut across land belonging to indigenous communities. However, according to Mexican law, those communities will have to give prior and informed consent before the estimated-$8billion USD project can go ahead.
López Obrador claims that the Tren Maya project will provide an economic boost to impoverished communities. He also used a referendum on the subject, in which 90 per cent of participants backed the project, to justify its construction. However, only 946,081 people took part in the poll, which represents just 0.73 per cent of Mexico’s 130 million citizens.
TYT Newsroom with information from The Telepgraph