Latin America Green News: Chile's Bachelet says HidroAysén is not viable; new fuel plan in the works for Costa Rica; Mexico passes vehicle efficiency rules
Posted June 28, 2013
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
June 23-28, 2013
Former president and current leading presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet made national and international headlines this week when she stated that she thinks HidroAysén is “not viable” and should not continue. Her comments, made during a presidential debate on Sunday night, spurred the head of HidroAysén, Daniel Fernandez, to fire back with statements of his own, saying that if the entire country could get behind the planned nationwide transmission line currently being considered by the government, called the “public electricity highway,” HidroAysén would certainly be viable. With the two main political coalitions holding their primaries on June 30, many are assessing the role HidroAysén will play in the presidential campaign. (New York Times 6/24/2013; Diario Financiero 6/24/2013; Seattle Post-Intelligencer 6/24/2013; Futuro Renovable 6/24/2013
In a clear sign of the growing interest in renewable energy technologies in Chile, 55% of proposed new generation projects are solar and wind projects, surpassing the conventional plants –coal and large hydro—for the first time. In the first trimester of 2012, coal and large hydro accounted for 71% of proposed projects; a year later, they constitute only 26% of the total. Solar and wind, on the other hand, grew from 25% last year to 55% this year. The OECD also released a report concluding that Chile can expect to see its renewable energy portfolio grow by 75% by 2018, reaching an installed capacity of about 5 GW. (La Tercera 6/24/2013; Diario Financiero 6/27/2013)
Scientists from the Huinay Foundation have discovered 50 new marine species in the fjords of Patagonia, two of which are cold-water corals. The isolation of the fjords and the difficult access to the area have kept these species a secret until now. Biologist and director of the group, Vreni Haussermann, said that the corals in particular are unique in the world for the shallow depth at which they live as well as the atypical reef formations and colors they maintain in the cold water. (La Tercera 6/22/2013)
New research commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and conducted by the Agriculture and Environment Center at the University of Chile analyzed the impacts climate change is having and will continue have on Chile in the coming decades. The research team concluded that if mitigation measures are not enacted, Chileans will live in a country that is warmer, with less rain and more storms and cloudy days. They found that in many areas the availability of water would drastically change, native forest cover would decrease, and that farmers would have to move traditional crops further south. (La Tercera 6/22/2013)
Following the General Comptroller’s determination that the feasibility study behind the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery’s (RECOPE) plan to expand its refining facility failed to comply with legal requirements, the company is now preparing to develop a new plan. RECOPE announced that over the next six months it will develop a “comprehensive” fuel plan that will include refining, asphalt production, use of refining byproducts and the incorporation of biofuels, natural gas and LNG for transport. After this conceptual strategy is developed it will be necessary to determine the plan’s technical feasibility. (América economía 6/25/2013)
Costa Rica’s transportation sector generates 64% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and now public transportation drivers have new options to help finance the switch to cleaner vehicles. The Bank of Costa Rica (BCR) has launched a new line of credit for bus and taxi drivers as part of an agreement between BCR and the Korea Exim Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Most of the clean vehicles will be eligible for up to 85% financing, while taxis affiliated to the National Federation Cooperative will be eligible for up to 100% financing. (El Financiero 6/26/2013)
The Industrias Infinito mining company announced it will remain in the country until it is indemnified for the 2010 cancellation of its gold mining concession. The Costa Rican Supreme Court’s rejection of the company’s appeal means Industrias Infinito has no further legal recourse in the country. However, it has gone to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and is seeking $1.092 million in damages. (La Nación 6/26/2013)
The Governing Council of the Global Environment Fund has approved a donation of $18.4 million for Mexico to fund a sustainable energy project proposed bythe Ministry of Energy) and the National Advisory Board of Science and Technology. The GEF funds and an additional $100 million from the Sustainable Energy Fund will help fund clean energy projects and development, due to start at the end of 2013, with the goals of promoting regional technical capacity, promoting cooperation between the social, academic and commercial sectors in developing cleaner technologies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Terra 6/26/2013).
The Director of Planning for the Ministry of Energy , Javier Estrada, says that it is important to consult Mexican citizens on energy use planning for the future. He estimates that Mexico has about 10 years of oil resources left to use, which could potentially become less as the Mexican population grows. In order to be prepared for energy use in 20 years, Mexico, along with its citizens, needs to start thinking of and developing the next viable sources of energy, including growing the already existent use of renewable energies in the country. This strategy is in line with the country’s recently released National Strategy on Climate Change, and will help further diversify the energy matrix of Mexico. (Periódico Correo 6/26/2013)
Mexico has passed a new policy on automobile efficiency that matches the efficiency standards held by the United State and Canada, preventing any cars that don’t match the standards from being imported into Mexico. While the policy is only valid from now until 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration is already discussing the rules that will come into place two years from now. All 2014 car models must match the standards laid out in the policy. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources,Juan José Guerra Abud, also discussed the importance of creating affordable financing conditions to ensure drivers have access to clean cars. (Radio Formula 6/26/203)