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Denée Reaves’s Blog

Latin America Green News: renewable energy benefits in Chile, greenhouse gas reductions in Costa Rica, endangered species conservation in Mexico and the degradation of the Amazon

Denée Reaves

Posted September 16, 2013

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

September 9-15, 2013 

Chile

The Chilean government is revisiting its approach to the distribution of thermal power plants across the country. The Ministry of Energy is carrying out a land use zoning analysis to relaunch the Piñera administration’s initiative to identify those zones in which construction of the plants will generate the least impact on the environment and on the communities living there. (El Mercurio 9/9/2013)

A study launched by Acera, PricewaterhouseCoopers and NRDC has determined that, though reaching Chile’s 20% non-conventional renewable energy (ERNC) target will require greater investments in capital, these costs will be compensated for by the savings in fuel.  By 2028, according to the study, the net benefit for the Chilean economy will be USD $1.6 billion. Increasing the proportion of ERNC in Chile’s energy sector is also expected to generate higher employment and contribute more to Chile’s GDP in the long term. (Pulso 9/13/2013)

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is seeking to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by exploring agricultural techniques that require less chemical fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers emit high amounts of nitrous oxide, which has a global warming potential much higher than carbon dioxide. In recent years, Costa Rica has used almost double the amount of these fertilizers as some of its Central American neighbors, making agriculture a top contributor (40%) to national greenhouse gas emissions.  (La Nación 9/9/2013)

A decree was signed this week to facilitate the creation of a Carbon Council, an interdisciplinary team that will coordinate the local carbon market. The decree is effectively a green light for the formation of a carbon market in Costa Rica, which will allow those companies that comply with the national carbon neutrality declaration to buy credits for the emissions that they are unable to reduce. (El Financiero 9/10/2013)

Mexico

In response to reports of crocodile overpopulation and multiple crocodile attacks, the Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) authorized the commercial exploitation of crocodiles in the state of Colima. The permits will be granted to ejidos and cooperatives associated with fisheries in Colima and, according to the Colima’s delegate from SEMARNAT, are intended to enable a controlled exploitation of the crocodile population for the purpose of protecting the public. (Vanguardia 9/11/2013)

Over 700 endangered loggerhead sea turtles were stranded along thirty miles of Mexico’s Baja California coastline so far this year. Though teams of both American and Mexican scientists have identified bycatch in fishing nets as the principle cause, the Mexican government claims that bycatch accounted for only 1% of the deaths. Under existing legislation, the United States has the authority to enact certain sanctions against countries that fail to uphold wildlife protection treaties. The Mexican administration could find itself under a United States trade embargo if it fails to protect loggerheads from unsustainable fishing practices. (Center for Biological Diversity 9/11/2013)

The United Nations Environment Programme awarded the “Champions of the Earth” Prize to Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo, a Mexican environmentalist, for her conservation work in the Mexican state of Querétaro.  Ms. Ruiz Corzo directs the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, the most biodiverse natural protected area in the country – “protected” because she herself led the activist group that convinced the Mexican government in 1997 to grant the Sierra Gorda its Biosphere Reserve status.  The Sierra Gorda is one of the country’s few examples of nature reserves born of social initiative, hence the awarding of Ms. Ruiz Corzo’s prize in the category of “Inspiration and Action”.  (El Milenio 9/11/2013)

Regional

A new study suggests that climate change, in the form of rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall, will transform part of the Brazilian Amazon into a savannah.  In addition to causing biodiversity loss and increases in greenhouse gas emissions, this transformation is expected to affect the land and water resources that Brazilian agriculture depends on.  (El País 9/13/2013)

In the Peruvian amazon primary forests, or forests that have not been significantly disturbed by humans, are facing increasing threats from palm oil plantations. In addition to four new projects proposed by Peru’s Grupo Palmas that would require more than 23,000 hectares of primary forest deforestation, foreign companies are also pursuing approval to establish palm oil plantations in Peru, putting the Amazon in further danger. (IDL-Reporteros  9/12/2013)

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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