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Denée Reaves’s Blog

Latin America Green News: Chile finds whales, Costa Rica approves climate bill, and Mexico increases wind energy

Denée Reaves

Posted February 28, 2014

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

February 23rd-29th, 2014

Chile

Fourteen authors from Chile, the U.S. and Brazil released the most comprehensive report to date about the size and significance of a trove of complete whale skeletons found in 2010 in Chile’s northern desert by a highway construction crew. The site – now called “Whale Hill” – is more than 120 feet above sea level, more than a half mile from the ocean, and contains approximately 40 skeletons, mostly of baleens whales, who are believed to have arrived there in four separate mass strandings that took place over the course of 10,000 years. (Washington Post 2/25/2014)

The high price of gasoline and diesel fuels drove approximately 7,000 taxis and “colectivos” in Chile to convert to natural gas in 2013, bringing the national total of natural gas-powered vehicles 30,000. Gerardo Muñoz, the Assistant Manager of Business Energy Technologies at Metrogas, says that a driver can spend 42% less on natural gas fuel than some gasoline during a month. (Economia y Negocios 2/28/2014)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly unilaterally approved a Framework Law on Climate Change during the first round of debates; a second round is still pending. The plan calls for climate change issue to be part of school curriculums and grants the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) with more tools to create policies and act on climate change. The plan also creates a National Commission on Climate Change that will be financed by the transfer of 15% of an annual budget surplus from the Ministry of the Environment. (El Financiero 2/26/2014)

According to the digital maps on WRI’s Global Forest Watch website, tree loss in Costa Rica during a 13 year period occurred primarily in the country’s northern border region and southern Pacific. While forest vegetation recovered somewhat along the Pacific, the level of forest recovery is still below forest loss levels. This loss of vegetation does not necessarily reflect deforestation since the digital maps reflect natural disasters, fires and other factors. (El Financiero 2/25/2014)

Mexico

According to news reports, Sabadell Bank has sold its shares in the property near the Cabo Pulmo National Park where the massive Cabo Cortés megatourism project was once proposed by Hansa Baja Investments. Sabadell gained ownership of the land during the Spanish banking sector reform when it took over the Caja Mediterráneo bank.  Following strong local opposition, the government ultimately cancelled the Cabo Cortés project. Attempts by Sabadell to reformulate the project where unsuccessful, prompting the eventual sale of the lands. (El Mundo 2/25/2014)

Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Director of the Ministry of Energy, has announced that Mexico has a potential of 57,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and that the recent energy reform allows for new competitors to enter into this growing market. By the end of 2013, Mexico’s wind energy sector was producing 917 megawatts from 25 wind parks around the country, and is currently building six new projects that will add to this production by 714 megawatts. Steve Sawyer, the General Director of Global Wind Energy Council, stated that Mexico is becoming the emerging new market for wind energy and that with the proper reforms and increasing its energy market by two gigawatts per year, Mexico could reach its stated energy goals in the next decade.  (El Financiero 2/26/2014)

The Special Climate Change Program (PECC), set to be published no later than April 30th, should include concrete actions on adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, states Leticia Pineda, head of public policy at the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda). If the Mexican government fails to promote action in the PECC to meet their ambitious targets for reducing emissions by 30% by 2020, it jeopardizes 15% of the national territory, 68% of the population, and 71% of the GDP to climate change.  (El Financero 2/24/2014)

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) omitted Environmental Impact Statements (MIA) for 92 projects according to an audit carried out on behalf of the Chamber of Deputies. The Playa Espíritu tourism project in Sinaloa was one of the more high-profile projects that moved forward without a MIA. (Vanguardia 2/25/2014)

Regional

A study from Dartmouth University has confirmed that Peru’s glaciers are retreating because of changing global temperatures, not because of snowfall variations. Researchers used field mapping, dating methods and ice cores to analyze how the Peruvian ice cap has changed over the past millennium. (UPI 2/25/2014)

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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