Latin America Green News: setback for HidroAysén in Chile, Mexico Monarch population shrinks, and climate adaptation in Costa Rica
Posted January 31, 2014
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
January 26th-February 1st, 2014
The Committee of Ministers met on Thursday to discuss HidroAysén, and made a much-anticipated announcement that they will not make a final ruling until the company does two more studies on specific areas currently lacking information. These areas –the Baker and Pascua Rivers’ hydrology and the impacts of the 5,000 workers who would build the dams – are two of the any that were identified in the more than 1,000 observations that local communities and citizens in the Patagonia region of Aysén filed in 2011. The announcement effectively pushes the decision for the hydroelectric project back to the incoming Bachelet administration. (El Divisadero, 1/31/2014; Diario Financiero 1/30/2014)
In another area, the Committee of Ministers also approved the creation of a new protected coastal marine area in the fjords of Aysén. Approximately 238.62 square kilometers identified as ecologically biodiverse in Pitipalena-Añihue will be protected. (El Divisadero, via Aqua, 1/28/2014)
A new study conducted by Yale University found that Chile ranks 37th among 178 countries in its air quality, with a grade of 96.8 out of 100 – putting it above the United States. Uruguay was ranked number one. One area in which Chile received poor scoring was in the air quality inside the home, which took into account the types of energy used to heat and cook. (Pulso, via Revista Electricidad, 1/28/2014)
Manchester University will work with the Costa Rican group Sulá Batsú, to implement a resilience assessment benchmarking and impact tool (RABIT) that assesses the communities’ capacity to adapt and recover from climate change impacts. The tool also evaluates the impact that information technology tools have on the recovery process. Implementing the tool in Costa Rica will help define actions that low-income communities that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts can take. This is the first time that the RABIT system is tested in the world. (El Financiero 1/29/2014)
Research from Mexico, including from Octavio Aburto of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, is increasingly showing that the value of conserving marine resources can be quantified. Studies have shown that Mexico’s mangroves generate a value of $37,500 per hectare, which is in sharp contrast with the $1,000 per hectare penalty the government charges when mangroves are destroyed. Scientists have also documented how fish populations increased by 400% in the first ten years since the Cabo Pulmo National Park was created to protect the region’s coral reefs. (Crónica 1/26/2014).
Gas Natural Fenosa, with the help of a $400 million dollar investment, will be constructing a wind farm within Oaxaca. Originally the wind farm was to generate energy for self-supply, but due to the new energy reform, the company will be branching out to sell their product in Mexico’s energy market. The farm will produce 234 Megawatts and will complement the company’s existing natural gas business. (Reve 1/26/2014)
A recent report from WWF and the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas shows that the number of Monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico has dropped by 43.7% this year, the lowest amount recorded since 1993. The continued drop in the monarch butterfly population highlights a trend that cannot be attributed solely to a combination of seasonal events. According to scientists, the biggest threats to the Monarchs are the changes in agricultural practices in the United States where genetically modified crops and herbicides are doing away with milkweed plants, the butterflies’ primary source of food. (La Jornada 1/29/2014)