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Denée Reaves’s Blog

Latin America Green News: Chilean president enacts renewables law, Costa Rican traffic pollutes, and Mexico strategizes to combat climate change.

Denée Reaves

Posted October 18, 2013

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

October 14 – October 18 2013

Chile

Chile’s president enacted two laws on electricity as part of a push to achieve his Administration’s entire electricity agenda by March of next year. The first law regards electricity concessions and the second seeks to increase renewable generation by setting a new goal of producing 20 percent of Chile’s energy needs with renewables by 2025. A third law that would establish an ‘electric highway’ may be more difficult to move forward. While consensus has been reached on interconnecting two of Chile’s grids, the Interconnected System of Norte Grande (SING) and the Interconnected Central System (SIC), critics of the proposal claim such a plan would help controversial projects like HidroAysén. (El Pulso, 10-18-2013)

Chile won second place in the Inter-American Development Bank’s (BID) annual ranking of countries’ capacity to attract clean energy investment. Chile was ranked three positions higher than last year, having more than quadrupled investments in renewable energies from 2011 to 2012, and is now second only to Brazil. (Df.cl, 10-16-2013)

Costa Rica

Hundreds of marine turtle deaths in Central America, including in Costa Rica, this year have triggered alarm among environmentalists. One explanation for the turtle deaths points to algal blooms, which can produce a substance called saxitoxin that affects animal nervous systems. The turtles’ late arrival to spawn on the beaches of Nicaragua and Honduras, possible due to changes in climate and ocean currents, is a second troubling observation in turtle populations this year. (La Nación, 10-16-2013)

Traffic congestion in San José increases emissions of polluting gases by 30 percent during peak hours, according to a study done by the University of Costa Rica’s Research Program on Sustainable Urban Design. The data indicate that, for over half of the time in morning and afternoon peak hours, vehicles move at 15 km/h or slower. The resulting congestion also increases gas costs up to 25 percent. (El Financiero, 10-14-2013)

Mexico

Representatives of the Swedish and Mexican Environmental Ministries met this week to discuss their respective positions on combating climate change. Both agree on the necessity of a binding legal agreement with high participation for 2015, with differentiated responsibilities according to each country’s circumstances. However, they also called for immediate, concrete action by national governments in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and recognized their respective achievements in these areas. (UniradioInforma.com, 10-14-2013)

While deforestation accounts for 17% of greenhouse gas emissions on a global level, it only accounts for 10% of emissions in Mexico. Presented in a seminar on climate change and forests at the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, this data indicate that Mexico is well-positioned for the time when all countries will be called upon to adopt deforestation and reforestation targets. Though Mexico was praised for being one of the few countries with a national climate change strategy, participants also pointed out that the administration needs to improve civil society engagement in combating climate change. (Informador.com.mx, 10-16-2013)

Mexico’s Commission for the Study of the Private Sector for Sustainable Development (CESPEDES) has concluded that the Mexican administration should offer companies an alternative to its proposed carbon tax - reducing emissions. According to the President of CESPEDES, this scheme would create a stronger incentive for companies to use renewable energies and reduce their carbon footprints. (Corresponsables, 10-16-2013)

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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