Climate, Energy and Environment News from Latin America: 1.24 - 1.28.2011


United States President Barack Obama announced an upcoming visit to Chile during his State of the Union address this week. (The Santiago Times, 1/27/11) In March, Obama will meet with President Piñera to discuss clean energy which Obama has defined as natural gas, “clean coal”, and nuclear, as well as renewable energy. (Associated Press, 1/26/11)

The approval or rejection of the HidroAysén’s transmission lines and 3,800 towers from Aysén to Santiago lies solely with the National Executive Director of the Environmental Assessment Service.  Under Chilean law the cross regional nature of the transmission lines make them subject to a different evaluation process than the installation of the five dams which was brought before the Evaluation Commission of the region.  (La Tercera, 1/24/11) 

Talks between Argentina’s Minister of Planning, Julio de Vido, and Chile’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Laurence Golbourne resulted in declaration of interest  in future energy integration from the two countries.  The energy exchange could include Chile sending natural gas to Argentina during peak demand, stabilizing electrical supply between the two countries, Chile studying Argentina’s nuclear facility operations, and strengthening information and technology cooperation in relation to biofuels. (La Tercera, 1/28/11) 

President Piñera announced a proposal for the creation of a new government agency, the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service.  The task of conservation was formerly assigned to the national forestry service, Conaf, which drew criticism from environmental groups who viewed it to be in direct conflict with its maintenance of the forestry industry. The new agency will supervise and establish administrative standards for wild areas including national parks, national reserves and national monuments, as well as nature sanctuaries, marine parks and protected coastal areas. (La Tercera, 1/28/11)                                                                                                                                                                      

Chilean Patagonia is listed as one of the top ten destinations of 2011 by the Lonely Planet.  This sparsely inhabited region with its pristine forests, glaciers, and active volcanoes makes it a hot spot for travelers searching for the last frontiers. (This is Chile.Cl, 1/26/11) 

Costa Rica:

The Environmental Court presented a new manual funded by The Nature Conservancy that compiles best practices and “translates” environmental laws for citizens.  The book includes 50 tips to help comply with environmental legislation, forestry, health, water, and construction guidelines of the National Environmental Technical Secretariat.  (El Financiero CR, 1/24/11)

The Regulatory Authority for Public Services wants to change the methodologies used to calculate fees citizens pay for public services, starting with bus fares.  The current model creates perverse incentives for bus companies to have oversized fleets because fees depend on the number of buses, the route, and the average occupancy- the lower the occupancy the higher the fee they can charge.  (La Nación, 1/24/11)

A new study published by the Economic Commission for Latin America reported that wind-power generation in Central America grew 120% between 2009 and 2010.  Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, and Belize produced 237.2 Gwh of wind energy throughout the year.  In the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, 27 megawatts of wind capacity were installed in 2009. (Inside Costa Rica, 1/28/11)

A new environmentally sustainable apartment complex completed the first of five stages in the La Vita project in San Antonio de Escazú.  The process of ecologically oriented construction, designed to minimize environmental degradation, promotes water and energy savings, the use of organic materials, and water treatment and recycling.  (El Financiero CR, 1/26/11)


Nissan will introduce the first electric vehicle to Mexico in October, 2011.  The first Nissan Leafs will be used as taxis to build consumer confidence and the federal government is working on building recharging stations for the vehicle. (La Crónica de Hoy, 1/27/11) 

The Spanish company Iberdrola will invest $365 million in Mexico to build cogeneration power plant in Salamanca, Guanajuato and a 20 megawatt wind farm in Oaxaca. (Milenio, 1/27/11)  Also in renewable energy news this week, the Governor of the state of Durango, Jose Herrera Caldera, approved the installation of a large scale solar photovoltaic plant.  The final capacity of the plant will be 10 megawatts. (Milenio, 1/24/11) 

The World Bank will jointly fund an energy efficiency program with the government of Mexico to make appliances cleaner and more efficient.   The program aims to replace approximately 1,700,000 refrigerators and air conditioners.   (Tu, 1/26/11)  

The head of the Federal District, Marcelo Ebrard will present the Mexico City climate agreement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.   The pact, signed by 138 cities during the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders in 2010, pledges their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. (El Universal, 1/28/11)

Note: The linked articles and excerpts in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Natural Resources Defense Council.