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Latin America Green News: Air quality plummets in Chile, birds help coffee farmers in Costa Rica, Cabo Dorado rejected in Mexico

Denée Reaves

Posted June 3, 2014

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

May 24th-30th, 2014

Chile

Six cities in the southern half of Chile have reached “pre-emergency” air quality levels, according to the Ministry of Environment’s National Air Quality System, as the levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) soar due to the widespread burning of firewood for energy and heat as well as poor air circulation. Coyhaique, the capital city of the Aysén region where 99% of the population uses firewood, was in the worst condition, with PM 2.5 levels reaching more than four times the recommended amount. The other cities on the list were Santiago, Talca, Chillán, Los Angeles, and Temuco. (La Tercera, 5/29/2014)

Costa Rica

A recently conducted study shows the Costa Rican coffee farmers can turn to a completely sustainable ally to combat the growing influx of borer beetle from Africa: the Yellow Warbler. This bird, along with a few others such as the golden-winged Warbler, the Warbler Chestnut Side, the Northern Candelita, and the Curruquita eats the borer beetle as part of its diet. The beetle has proven resistant to most pesticides so the birds are providing an important ecosystem service valued at $10,000 per year.. (CR Hoy, 5/28/2014).

The Ministry of Environment (Minae) has acknowledged that they will not be able to solve the deficit of more than 400 park rangers in the short term. Due to financial issues, Minae cannot hire the sufficient number of park rangers to maintain and protect the various national parks and protected areas in Costa Rica, but hopes to be able to within the next four years. Meanwhile the ministry will explore other options such as working with the Ministry of Security so that police forces can participate in the protection of national parks (CR Hoy, 5/28/2014).

Mexico

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) rejected Cabo Dorado, the large scale tourism and real-estate complex proposed near Cabo Pulmo National Park, for failing to meet environmental standards. In an apparent attempt to avoid the negative ruling on their project, the investors behind the Cabo Dorado project issued an open letter to President Peña Nieto and other officials stating they would withdraw the project’s environmental impact statement and present a new one at a later date. However, withdrawal of the project was not an option, given that Semarnat had already reached a decision. (Peninsular Digital 5/30/2014; La Jornada, 5/30/2014)

Mexico will host the Second Summit of World Legislators on climate change June 6th-June 8th. The summit will be attended by over 500 political leaders, representing over 100 countries, who will discuss measures to address climate change, environmental legislation, policies, budgets and sustainable development. This summit will serve as a primary discussion for the climate negotiations taking place later this year in Lima, Peru and next year in Paris, France. (AM, 5/27/2014).

The Undersecretary of Energy Transitioning Planning, Leonardo Beltrán Rodríguez, has reaffirmed Mexico’s commitment to increasing renewable energy production by assuring that the secondary legislation will not only allow for more renewable energy sources, but will also drive them. Beltrán Rodríguez also highlights an $18.4 million dollar project that will analyze the potential development of sustainable technologies in the country. (Notimex, 5/28/2014).

For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America Green 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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