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Latin America Green News: A new threat faces Chile's penguins, energy use for transportation rises in Costa Rica, new online biodiversity tool in Mexico

Denée Reaves

Posted December 6, 2013

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

December 1st-7th, 2013

Chile

The celebrated Punta de Choros marine reserve, which made national headlines three years ago when President Piñera cancelled the Barrancones coal plant proposed near its coast, is facing a new threat. Investors have proposed building a $2.5 billion open-pit mining project called Dominga, which would produce iron concentrate and high grade copper concentrate 23 kilometers from the Punta de Choros Marine Area, the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, the Choros-Damas Islands Marine Reserve and Gaviota Island. The potential for Dominga to impact Punta de Choros is worrying to environmentalists, who describe the likely impacts to be “worse than Barrancones.” (El Mostrador, 12/3/2013)

The proposed massive hydroelectric plant HidroAysén received bad news this week when leading presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet spoke out against the project in her strongest words yet. “HidroAysén is not viable, and will not have our support,” she told the press.  (El País, 12/5/2013)

The Center for Renewable Energy released its monthly assessment of the renewable energy sector this week, highlighting growth throughout 2013. So far this year the installed megawatts of renewables surpassed that of the previous year by 22%, with 204 MW added to the main grids since January 1. In October alone, solar projects with a combined capacity of 517 MW were submitted for approval to the environmental impact review system, comprising 51% of the total. Wind followed, with 39% and then mini-hydro with 10%. (Center for Renewable Energy via FuturoRenovable.cl, 12/4/2013)

Costa Rica

Between 1990 and 2010, Costa Rica’s energy consumption for the transportation sector increased by 294%, the second greatest increase in Latin America. The most significant contributing factor has been the growth of the country’s vehicle fleet. (El Financiero, 12/4/2013)

Earth University has been accredited by the Costa Rican Accreditation Entity to carry out greenhouse gas inventory verifications. As part of the accreditation process, Earth University’s Carbon Neutrality Unit has already carried out verifications at twelve organizations. Earth University is the second entity in Costa Rica to receive this accreditation. (El Financiero, 12/5/2013)

The latest update to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species includes 333 species that live or migrate through Costa Rican territory. Of these, 204 are animal and the rest are plant species. In Costa Rica there are 2,974 species considered to have some level of risk. (El Financiero 11/28/2013)

Mexico

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources along with the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity has introduced an innovative and educational tool to Mexican citizens: NaturaLista. This tool is a website that combines both Mexican and global scientific research from the last few decades, and functions as a way to educate youth on the importance of preserving the biodiversity of their country, as well as a way to observe how climate change affects the flora and fauna of Mexico. (SEMARNAT Sala de Prensa, 12/3/2013)

The Congress of Tlatlauquitepec has petitioned the federal government for the cancelation of the Autlán company’s authorization to mine for gold. This weekend, the company received authorization from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to begin drilling for gold. The community of Tlatlauquitepec was not consulted or notified about this mine, and discovered its existence through media outlets. The municipality’s government is against the mine, but can only prevent its production for up to two months as the power to determine land use is left to the federal government. This is one of eight mining projects in the municipality, and the community is worried about their natural resources. (La Jornada de Oriente, 12/5/2013)

During the closing ceremony of the 2013 International Year of Cooperation on Water,  the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Juan José Guerra Abud, highlighted the importance of optimizing the use of water and promoting the recycling of water in Mexico especially in the face of climate change impacts. Guerra Abud pointed out that the Pacific and Atlantic coasts have been hit by 9 hurricanes this year alone; more hurricanes than Mexico has ever faced. The Minister encouraged all countries to work on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and noted that the Mexican government will do all in its power to ensure its citizens have water available for all their basic needs.(Rotativo, 12/5/2013)

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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