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Latin America Green News: Chile gets an energy agenda, Costa Rica saves electricity, Mexico wants more renewables

Denée Reaves

Posted May 19, 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 11th-17th, 2014

Chile

After much anticipation, President Bachelet released the new national Energy Agenda this week, which will inform the country’s long term Energy Policy. The agenda calls for active government involvement in the energy sector, increased market efficiency and competition and lower energy prices, more local energy sources, improved connectivity and transmission, broad energy efficiency, new investment in energy infrastructure, and greater citizen participation and zoning/planning efforts. Achieving the agenda will require legislative changes, and reactions to the announcement were generally quite positive. (Bíobío Chile 5/15/2014; El Dínamo 5/16/2014; Diario U Chile 5/15/2014)

Construction began this week on Latin America’s first solar thermal plant, the $1 billion Cerro Dominador, in Antofagasta’s Atacama Desert. Owned by the Spanish company Abengoa, the plant will use 10,600 mirrors arranged around a 250 meter tower to generate 16,000 MW. It can store the energy for 18 hours, allowing the plant to generate power 24 hours a day. The plant will help Chile meet its climate goals by avoiding the emission of 643,000 tons of CO2 annually. (El Mercurio 5/14/2014)

The Director of CODELCA, Ricardo Palma, acknowledged that the Andina 244 copper mine will impact six glaciers in Chile’s fifth region. However, the Mayor of La Barnechea, who is critical of the planned mine expansion, stated that the project will impact 26 of the region’s glaciers. Glaciologist at the Universidad de Chile, Francisco Ferrando, agrees that the likely impacts, which will be irreversible, will reach beyond what CODELCO is saying. (El Mostrador 5/15/2014)

Costa Rica

Eighteen environmental groups wrote to Costa Rica’s new government calling for reforms to the National Environmental Technical Agency (Setena) which they consider to be in a state of crisis and in need of an overhaul. The groups listed 13 cases where they found Setena’s management to be deficient. Their proposals include a complete change of the institution’s current personnel, granting it technical and financial independence and initiating investigations into specific cases. (El Financiero 5/12/2014)

The most common sustainability action taken by Costa Ricans is saving electricity, according to a recent survey. The survey conducted by the Costa Rica Institute of Technology found that only 30% of the population has a high degree of environmental commitment in their day to day actions, but of the four sustainability activities analyzed, electric efficiency was the only one that had shown a marked improvement during the study’s timeline of 2010-2013. (El Financiero 5/14/2014) 

Mexico

The Environmental Impact Statement for the Cabo Dorado project proposed near the Cabo Pulmo reef in Baja California has serious deficiencies according to experts from the Institute of Ecology at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM).  Based on an analysis of the document they concluded that the project t is incompatible with the local municipality’s ecological zoning plan and the marine zoning program for the Gulf of California. UNAM’s analysis found serious errors and false information in the impact statement that underestimate the pressure the project will place on the surrounding terrestrial and marine areas, as well as local water resources. (La Jornada 5/12/21014)

The monarch butterfly’s magnificent migration from Canada and the United States all the way to Michoacán, Mexico is in danger due to the herbicides used in the United States that diminish the monarch’s food source and nesting grounds. The last migration in 2013 saw the lowest ever number of butterflies arriving in Mexico. The monarch reserve in Michoacán is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, and according to UNESCO authorities participation of all countries involved is necessary to find a solution to the monarch migration. (Noticieros 5/12/2014, Noticieros 5/13/2014).

Mexico seeks to increase its renewable energy installed capacity to 32.9% by 2018 announced Leonardo Beltrán, Subsecretary of Planning and Energy Transition, during the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of Clean Energy (CEM5).During the event, the representative from the Mexican Energy Ministry highlighted reforms to the energy model focused on energy efficiency, clean energy supply, energy integration and capacity building. (Diario Rotativo 5/14/2014).

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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