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Denée Reaves’s Blog

Latin America Green News: proposed dams meet new hurdles in Chile; a new climate change strategy helps combat negative impacts in Mexico; Costa Rica imports clean cars.

Denée Reaves

Posted June 7, 2013

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

June 2-7, 2013

Chile

Citizens of the Patagonian Region of Aysén, together with social and political leaders, presented two new motions appealing HidroAysén’s approval to the Environmental Evaluation Commission of Aysén, with the potential for the cases to end up in Chile’s newly-established Environmental Court. The two motions are distinct from the previous appeals that were overruled by the Supreme Court in 2012. In the first new case, citizens who would be relocated because of HidroAysén’s five dams argue that the project’s environmental impact assessment lacked important information, that impacts were poorly evaluated and that the reports were modified over time. The second case argues that the environmental impact assessment agency in Aysén did not properly notify the affected citizens of the resolution approving HidroAysén. (El Ciudadano 6/1/2013; Coalición Ciudadana por Aysén Reserva 6/1/2013)

Energía Austral, owner of the Rio Cuervo dam project proposed in Patagonia, has requested its seventh extension from the environmental review authorities in the Aysén Region. The company was supposed to answer the authority’s questions about the planned dam—including a volcanology report requested by the National Geology and Mining Service and the Supreme Court—by the end of June, but it now has until August 30th to submit its responses. If built, the dam would have an installed capacity of 640 MW and cost $733 million, and would be one of three dams Energía Austral plans to build in the area, all totaling 1,100 MW and $3.6 billion. (La Segunda 6/5/2013)

The Senate’s Environment and National Assets Commission discussed a bill proposing to increase levels of protection for Chile’s glaciers, with representatives from mining companies, indigenous communities, and the General Water Directorate in attendance. If passed, the law would place great restrictions on mining companies with activities in the country’s mountains, an issue that has gained new relevance in light of recent environmental impacts caused by the Pascua Lama and Los Bronces mines. Commission members said they could be ready to vote on the bill in September. (Radio Universidad de Chile 6/5/2013)

The German company Belectric entered Chile’s renewables market this week by submitting environmental impact documents for four new photovoltaic solar projects in the Tarapacá Region. Each of the four projects would have an installed capacity of 22MW and a price tag of $40 million, for a combined total of 88 MW and $160 million. (Estrategia 6/4/2013)

Costa Rica

Following the death of Jairo Mora, a young Costa Rican environmentalist murdered late last week while patrolling turtle nesting beaches in Moín, local NGOs are calling on the government to ensure adequate protection for environmental workers and volunteers in the country. The groups also presented proposals to create a new protected area in Moín, increase the number of park rangers, improve training and equipment for rangers, train police forces on environmental issues, and legal reforms for coastal areas. (La Nación 6/5/2013)

Costa Rica may start importing cleaner vehicles from China to renew its taxi and bus fleets. As part of a package of new accords between China and Costa Rica, the Bank of Costa Rica and the Export-Import Bank of China signed a line of credit of $102 million that will help import 12,000 taxis and 4,000 buses from China. Drivers that import the Chinese vehicles will receive better financing conditions. (La Nación 6/4/2013)

As part of a World Bank pilot project, Costa Rica will calculate the value of the ecosystems services provided by water and forest resources and the cost of their environmental degradation. The project to create a green accounting system to measure the country’s natural capital will take place from 2013 – 2016. (La Nación 6/5/2013)

Mexico

The third International Seminar of China and Latin America: Cooperation and Sustainability met this week with attendees such as Chen Fengying, Director of the Chinese Institute of Global Economic Studies of Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Carlos Octavio Rivera Blanco of Center for Investigation of Sustainable Energy Resources (CIRES), and Roberto Best y Brown of the Institute of Renewable Energies of the Mexican National University of Autonomy (UNAM). The meeting focused on the development of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, biomass and hydraulic for each country. Both countries agreed on the necessity of expanding ties to mediate sharing of new technologies and information on renewable energies, the goal of which would be to facilitate more sustainable communities in Mexico and China. (E-Veracruz 06/04/2013).

Over one hundred private, public, social, and academic organizations declared that the renewal of the program Hoy No Circula will not be enough to combat the amount of emissions and air pollution caused by vehicles in Mexico City. Instead of the program achieving its goal of reducing the amount of high-emission cars on the road, it encouraged  car owners to purchase a second car or sell their old one for a new one, generating an increase of over 5 million cars on the road. Gerardo Moncada, Coordinator of Efficient Transportation Projects at the Power of the Consumer organization stated that the renewal on its own will not change things, but combined with cooperation from both federal and local governments as well an implementation of a quality public transportation system, reducing the air pollution is highly likely. (Excelsior 06/05/2013)

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) announced it agreement of Mexico’s National Strategy on Climate Change (ENCC) which was published in the Federation’s Daily Official this past Monday. The strategy has three overarching themes: Pillars of national climate change policy, Adaptation to the impacts of climate change and the Development of ways to mitigate the level of emissions. Under these three themes are 8 main pillars: reduce the vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of the social sector against climate change impacts, conserve and use the ecosystems in a sustainable manner and maintain the environmental services they provide, accelerate the transition to using clean energy sources, reduce energy intensity though efficiency schemes and responsible use, transition to sustainable city models of transportation, integrated waste consumption and reduction of carbon footprint, promote agricultural and forestry best practices, reduce pollutant emissions of short-lived co-benefits, and promote health and wellness. (Uniradio Informa 06/03/2013).

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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