Latin America Green News: Chile's glaciers, Costa Rica's hammerhead sharks, Mexico's energy reform, Uruguay's wind energy
Posted June 23, 2014
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
June 14th-20th, 2014
A new public opinion poll by Cadem Plaza Pública found that 63% of Chileans approve of the government’s recent decision to cancel HidroAysén’s permits. The poll results are in line with another survey which showed that 62% of Chileans are against the proposed dams. Cadem Plaza Pública also found that, 52% of Chileans believe there is an energy generation deficit and 80% would prefer to pay higher prices for energy that is clean and non-polluting. When asked what kind of energy the government should prioritize, 44% chose solar power, 21% selected wind power and 18% voted for hydroelectric power, with 11% going for natural gas, 2% for nuclear and 1% for coal. (T13, 6/16/2014)
The Chamber of Deputies’ Environment Commission and other members of Parliament presented Chilean Environment Minister, Pablo Badenier, with a bill to protect Chile’s glaciers. The bill’s focus is not on “those who destroy glaciers, but on prevention and conservation,” according to Deputy Daniel Melo, President of the Chamber’s environmental commission. In response, Minister Badenier reiterated the administration’s commitment to pass legislation addressing glaciers and announced that he would deliver his comments on the bill after discussing it with the General Water Bureau. (El Dinamo, 6/18/2014)
President Bachelet announced that the government’s future energy agenda for the country’s southernmost region, Magallanes, will focus on diversifying the local grid by building up its renewable capacity and exploring alternatives to natural gas. Bachelet highlighted the region’s “extremely large” potential for wind energy in particular and mentioned exploring the opportunities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal gasification. (Economía y Negocios, 6/17/2014)
Costa Rica and Ecuador have proposed protective measures be taken for two species of hammerhead sharks. The countries request that these species be put on the Appendices II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals list which would ensure international cooperation in the protection of these species and their habitats. According to the non-governmental organization, Sea Turtle Restoration Program, the hammerhead shark population has been reduced by up to 99% in some regions due to the high demand for shark fins in Asian markets because of their supposed curative and aphrodisiacal properties.(El País 6/13/2014).
The early arrival of nesting Oliver Ridley turtles to Ostional beach has surprised many in the surrounding community. The typical nesting season for these turtles is between July and December, with peak times in September and October. Scientists and tourist, who were unprepared for this early arrival, hope that the turtles will come in mass again in July. (CR Hoy 6/19/2014).
The Ministries of Health and Energy and Environment have established a national moratorium on all activities related to the thermal transformation of solid waste. The moratorium will be in effect until scientific studies prove that there are no negative environmental or health consequences related to incinerating waste. (CR Hoy 6/17/2014).
The Mexican Environmental Law Center (CEMDA) and Greenpeace Mexico warn that the proposed secondary laws presented by the Executive branch last month failed to adequately promote renewable energy. In a letter to the Mexican Senate, the two civil society groups urge legislators to incorporate eight minimum criteria into the secondary laws, including ensuring ample public participation, ensuring that new demand growth is met with clean energy, promoting distributed generation, creating a smart energy grid, and incorporating an energy efficiency target. (CEMDA release 6/17/2014)
According Martha Sosa, Representative from the PAN party, the energy transition proposals her party has presented as part of the energy reform process includes measures to reduce the use of fossil fuels and boost renewable energy. Their long-term objectives include lowering electricity rates and ensuring that by 2024 500,000 homes and businesses use electricity generated by solar panels. However, the debate over the secondary laws that would regulate Mexico’s energy reform was suspended for the second time in one week when PAN representatives withdrew from discussions in reaction to a proposed reform to the general law on political parties. (Angelguardian.mx 6/16/2014; CNN México 6/18/2014)
Yucatán now officially has a new Special Climate Change Action Program that establishes an institutional framework that will facilitate the implementation of public policies to address climate impacts and emissions. The plan lays out strategies for various sectors including: health, economy, education, environment, agriculture, fishing, tourism, urban development, ecosystems, water and biodiversity. The program was previously approved by the Intersectoral Climate Change Commission of Yucatán. (Diario de Yucatán 6/16/2014)
A new study reported that in 2016 Uruguay will obtain 33% of its energy from wind power, making it the country with the highest penetration of wind energy in the world. The consulting firm behind the report, SEG Ingeniería, found that if the wind farms that are currently under development become operational in the next two years, Uruguay will be generating 1.2 gigawatts of energy with wind power. Denmark, which is currently the world leader in this category, will likely have 28% wind power penetration in 2016, while Portugal’s wind penetration will be around 18%. (America Economía, 6/16/2014)