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Latin America Green News: Chile loses ozone, Costa Rica opens its first carbon market, and Mexico's energy debate leaves out renewables

Carolina Herrera

Posted October 25, 2013

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Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

October 21 – October 25 2013

Chile

The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has expanded to southern Chile and Argentina for the third time, according to the Izaña Center for Atmospheric Research in Tenerife. The ozone layer has now decreased to 50% of its normal size, resulting in a jump from 4 to 10 on the scale of intensity for ultraviolet radiation. (El Mercurio, 10-22-2013) 

Members of the Chilean government have put forward a motion to prohibit the use of non-biodegradable bags in commercial stores throughout Chilean Patagonia. The polyethylene bags currently in use are the principle source of contamination in this region, and eliminating them will both improve the quality of life for its residents and help protect its natural resources. (Prensa Antartica, 10-23-2013)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s carbon market started business last week with the opening of Banco2, the country’s primary carbon bank. The bank will buy and sell carbon credits from individuals and companies who either need to offset greenhouse gas emissions, or wish to be compensated for sequestering them. Banco2 has already received options for more than one million tons of CO2 equivalents from the forestry, energy and transport sectors. (El Financiero, 10-25-2013)

An editorial from La Nación called for Costa Rica to adopt a new agenda for development to combat climate change, arguing that a mere mitigation plan is not enough. Though Costa Rica has adopted a national strategy for climate change, progress toward its 2021 carbon neutrality goal such as increasing the use of clean energies has been markedly slow. Costa Rica will also soon require vast improvements to its infrastructure, the editorial argues, in order to manage the increasing incidence of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. (La Nación, 10-22-2013)

The new president of Costa Rica’s Environmental Administrative Tribunal, José Luis Vargas, announced this week that water contamination, air pollution and coastal marine issues will be his primary focus of attention.  Vargas plans to start off with a comprehensive training program to bring his staff up to speed on specific environmental issues, and to promote integration between national institutions working on conservation, water and oceans, health, agriculture and ranching. (El País.cr, 10-22-2013)

Mexico

The Mexican administration has left increased renewable energy exploitation out of its current debate on energy reform. However, experts agree that renewables are both an important and viable option for Mexico. Satisfying the national energy demand will require a set of diverse energy sources, developed according to the specific conditions and natural resource availabilities of different parts of the country. (Tiempo en Linea, 10-21-2013)

The Mexican National Autonomous University’s Research Program on Climate Change has proposed two new studies on knowledge and understanding of climate change. The proposals are for a “Mexico Report on Climate Change” and “National Network for Multidisciplinary Research on Climate Change”, and aim both to support current decision-makers and to provide direction for new climate change-related studies. (La Jornada en línea, 10-20-2013)

A certification scheme has named Delfines, a beach in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, one of Mexico’s five beaches of excellence. The scheme, called Blue Flag, is part of the Foundation for Environmental Education and is awarded for excellence in environmental management and natural resource protection, as well as security, hygiene, and environmental education. (Novedades, 10-23-2013)

Regional

A purring monkey and a vegetarian piranha number among the 441 new plant and animal species that conservationists have discovered over the last four years in the Amazon rainforest. This rate of discovery averages at about 2 new species per week, a testament to the Amazon’s importance as a center of global biodiversity. Strong commitments to protect the Amazon are crucial for these species’ survival, as deforestation and tourism continue to threaten rainforest ecosystems. (TheGuardian.com, 10-23-2013)

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America News archive or read our other International blogs.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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