Latin America Green News: coal plant protests in Chile, distributed generation in Costa Rica, Mexico groups call for boosting renewables
Posted February 14, 2014
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
February 9th-14th, 2014
Angry local fishermen and kelp farmers block access to the coal-fired Bocamina I power plant in the Bio-Bio Region this week. The 128 MW plant had been closed since January 27 by authorities after the local communities had shown that it was causing environmental and economic damage to the area. The environmental regulators allowed the plant to re-open on Tuesday under the conditions that Endesa Chile’s plant strictly adhere to its environmental license and does not further harm marine life. (Santiago Times 2/11/2014)
New changes in the regulations governing the evaluation of proposed projects are making it more difficult for companies to successfully meet approval criteria. Since the Environmental Assessment System (SEA) enacted the new regulation on December 24, 2013, only eight of the 67 projects submitted for approval have been accepted into the system. Of the rest, 42 were not accepted by the SEA, 11 have been abandoned by their owners and six others await a decision from SEA. The head of the SEA, Edesio Carrasco, commented that this is a typical part of the transition to stricter standards and that he expects the situation will work itself out over time. (Pulso 2/11/2014)
A rural electrification cooperative in San Carlos, Costa Rica is launching a new program to let its members generate their own electricity and sell any extra back to the cooperative’s grid. With this program, the coop hopes to minimize the amount of power it must buy from the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) or other generators. The distributed generation initiative is targeted at coop members that install solar, wind or biomass generators of up to 10 kW of capacity. Meanwhile, ICE’s own distributed generation pilot project is in place since 2010. Originally launched as a two year program that aimed for 5 MW of renewable generation capacity to be installed, the pilot was extended through 2015 and the new goal is now to produce 10 MW. To date 199 customers have asked to participate and the equivalent of 748.51 kW is already connected with a remaining 5.2 MW still waiting approval. (La Nación 2/13/2014)
The presiding officers of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Mexico on February 11th and 12th to identify issues that will be discussed in the upcoming XIX Forum of Ministers scheduled for March. The officers highlighted climate change, biodiversity, and green growth as the three main issues to discuss in the upcoming March meeting, and determined that the goals of the Forum will be strengthening inter-agency coordination and forming networks of communication to optimize the natural resources of the region. (Critica Politica 2/12/2014).
The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), along with three other organizations that make up the Group on Climate Change Financing in Mexico, called for the secondary legislation that will be necessary under the new energy reform to provide concrete plans for achieving Mexico’s renewable energy development and emission reduction goals. The groups called for the secondary legislation to focus on improving efficiency in the generation and use of energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels and developing methodologies to internalize negative externalities of energy projects.(CEMDA 2/12/2014).
The Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) has released a report that states the Mesoamerican reef will suffer significant effects in the next 50 years from climate change, population growth and increased demand for marine products. The report spurred environmental groups in Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Mexico to call for more stringent protection measures around the reef that boarders all of their coasts and holds the title of the second largest reef in the world. HRI’s report provides 22 indicators to protect the ecosystem for further detriment. (Terra 2/12/2014).
Niparajá, a civil society group, and the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur have just completed a study on the La Isla Espíritu Santo National Park to determine if designating the island as a national park in 2007 has benefited the local marine ecosystem. The study found that from 2007 to 2013, the richness and biodiversity of the area has remained stable, while the fish have grown in size and number, benefiting both the ecosystem and the fishing industry in the area. The investigators’ hope is that the park will recover fully in 15 years, just as the Cabo Pulmo National Park did. (Peninsular Digital 2/13/2014).
According to a new report by the UN Environment Programme, Latin America today is extracting more natural resources per unit of GDP than in 1970. The report finds that environmental pressure in the region is linked to both increasing per capita consumption in the region as well as by growing international demand. The regions forests are particularly affected since they are the source of wood and non-wood produced used for industrial and non-industrial purposes. (El Financiero 2/11/2014)