Climate, Energy and Environment News from Latin America: 1.31 - 2.4.2011


Alleged adulteration in the environmental impact assessments of the HidroAysén dam project surfaced this week.  The regional branch of the National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) had rejected the project but the Conaf headquarters changed the report and stated that the project complied with all environmental requirements.   According to Senator Guido Girardi, the same thing happened with the Castile power plant leading him to believe that there is systematic action of authorities to approve illegal projects that do not comply with environmental regulations.   (La Tercera, 1/31/2011)

Tensions may be rising again in the Magallanes region over the approval of the Minas coal mine.  The mine will be located on Isla Riesco, just 80 miles from the region’s capital, Punta Arenas and has an estimated 240 million tons of coal.  The Magallanes Citizen Assembly has not made an official statement but an independent campaign against the mine has begun. (The Santiago Times, 2/1/11)

Chile’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 74% between 2008 and 2009 according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, making it the country with the greatest increase in carbon emissions. (Diario Financiero, 2/2/11)   Chile’s greenhouse gas emissions are close to 5.5 tons per capita. (Estrategia, 1/31/11) 

Chilean Scientists have developed a “geotagging” system with a satellite-equipped buoy and Global Positioning System (GPS) to better document biodiversity in Antarctica.  Antarctica has a continental shelf with large range of biodiversity and could face an 8 degree Celsius temperature rise due to climate change making it highly important for climate change research.  (The Santiago Times, 2/1/11)

Solar Atacama, the largest solar energy power generation project, was submitted into the environmental review process this week.  The proposed 250 MW capacity plant will be located in the Region of Tarapacá with an investment of $773 million. (El Mercurio, 2/3/11)  Another mega wind farm project is being proposed by the Chilean-Swedish firm Ecopower in the Aysén region.  If approved the 112 MW project with an investment of $235 million would begin construction next year and open commercial operations in late 2012. (Chile Renovables, 2/1/11)

An hour long blackout in 9 out of Chile’s 15 states this week raised concerns over energy rationing in Chile.  Low rains this year has brought into question the ability of hydropower to provide a reliable source of energy for the country.  (The Associated Press, 2/3/11)

Sergio del Campo was named the new Undersecretary of Energy.  Prior to his appointment Mr. del Campo served as the general manager of Guacolda, a subsidiary of AES Gener, one of the largest power plants in Chile.  (La Tercera, 2/4/11)

Costa Rica:

Scientists from around the world have sent a letter to Costa Rica’s President urging her to reject a bill that would weaken protections for nesting beaches of Pacific Leather back turtles. While the bill has not been brought to discussion under the current government, it remains a concern until it is tabled.   The letter signed by 478 individuals can be found here.   (Raleigh News, 2/3/11)

A new 14 hectare environmental technology park will be built in Pococí, Costa Rica.  The goal of the park is to be carbon neutral.  In order to achieve this goal trucks using biofuels will be utilized.  In addition there will be 2 biodigesters, a compost, an open classroom, and research and training in the proper handling and recycling of waste.  (El Financiero CR, 4/2/11)

Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) registered 78 new species in 2010.  The list includes nine species of fungi, four plants, two arthropods, three tardigrades or water bears, and 60 insects.  (La Nación, 1/31/11)

Between 1995 and 2009, Costa Rica’s carbon emissions increased by 44%.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Costa Rica placed 114 among 218 countries in a poll of global carbon emitters.  Between 2008 and 2009, the country reduced its carbon emissions by 4.2%.  The country’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2021. (El Financiero CR, 1/31/11)

The Committee on Development of San Carlos (Codeforsa) in Costa Rica was featured in a book by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) titled, “Exemplary Cases of Sustainable Forest Management in Latin America and the Caribbean.”  The book discusses forestry experiences in 14 countries in the region.  The book corresponds with the launch of the International Year of Forests.  (El Financiero CR, 2/1/11)

The first world association for sustainable tourism was formed in Costa Rica during the UNWTO General Assembly and UNEP.  Under the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism 182 companies operate under the guidelines of the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism. (El Financiero CR, 1/31/11)

In 2008, the government announced a reduction of import taxes for hybrid cars to stimulate sales of environmentally friendly cars.   Vice Minister of Energy, Andrei Bourret said that the economic situation has prevented the tariff reductions from happening but that he will negotiate with the Ministry of Finance to determine when and what benefits will apply to hybrid vehicles. (Monumental 93.5 FM, 1/31/11)  


SEMARNAT set 14 conditions for construction of a toll road.  Some of the conditions include that 71 hectares must be reforested, 1% of tolls must go to take care of the environment in the area, a nursery must be created, and natural waterways must not be diverted.  The measures come in exchange for amendments made to the forest land use law to develop 2,060 meters of road. (La Crónica, 1/29/11)

NGO’s of the campaign, “Communities Count+” issued a statement to the government of Mexico calling for greater transparency in the implementation of REDD+.  To date there is no public information on the   contracts signed between the World Bank and the Forest Investment Program (FIB) projects, pilot REDD projects in Mexico and the Fondo Cooperativo para el Carbono de los Bosques projects, nor agreed resources with the Government of Norway. (Planeta Azul, 2/2/11)

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.