Climate, Energy and Environment News from Latin America: 9.27 - 10.1.2010


During a trip to California with President Sebastian Piñera, Energy Minister Ricardo Raineri signed an agreement with the State of California to increase the exploration and utilization of geothermal energy.  (El Mercurio, 9/27/10)

HidroAysén’s Executive Vice President, Daniel Fernandez, expects the dams to receive their environmental approval between January and March of 2011.  (El Mercurio, 9/30/10) He also raised doubts about the efficiency of the transmission line when he said that 220 MW of the dams’ total generating capacity of 2750 MW would likely be lost through transmission. (Terra, 9/30/10)

Energy Minister Raineri stated that the first of HidroAysén’s five power plants could go online as soon as 2018 or 2019 pending the project’s environmental approval.  He added that the environmental review for the transmission line would likely be finished at the end of 2013, and that investment decisions would be made in 2014.  (Fox Business News, 9/30/10)

About 70 people from towns of the Aysén region and around the world met on the banks of the Baker River at Puerto Bertrand to commemorate World Rivers Day.  (El Divisadero, 9/29/10)  In another display of defiance, the Cochrane City Council denied HidroAysén’s request to hold a meeting between the company’s executive vice president, Daniel Fernandez, members of the national media, and local mayors.  (Radio Bio Bio, 9/30/10)

The Senate Mining Commission will merge three proposals all seeking to increase the mining industry’s power generation from non-conventional renewable energy sources by 20% by the year 2020.  (Diario Financiero, 10/1/10) Earlier in the week, the Dona Ines de Collahuasi mining company submitted a proposal to the government requesting renewable energy initiatives for northern Chile.  The company asserts that renewable energy sources could provide 20 percent of the electricity for the northern grid, which provides supplies electricity to much of the mining industry.  (The Santiago Times, 9/28/10)

In October Chile will launch a new Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service, operated by the Ministry of the Environment, to focus on the protection and conservation of biological diversity as well as the renewable natural resources of Chile. (La Tercera, 9/28/10)

The government of Chile will create a 71,000 square mile marine reserve around the Salas and Gomez Islands, approximately 2001 miles off of the Chilean coast.  This will increase the protection of this specific zone from 0.03% to 12% surpassing the 1992 Convention for Biological Diversity requirement of 10% before 2012.  However this is only about half the area that the senate and conservation groups requested.  (The Santiago Times, 9/30/10)

Costa Rica:

The foreign policy of Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and her minister of foreign affairs, René Castro will push for a greater environmental commitment.  However it appears that focus will shift away from the “Peace with Nature” brand initiated by the Arias administration. (La Nación, 9/27/10)

A new legislative proposal to improve the fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet in Costa Rica offers a tax break to imported cars less than 6-7 years old and engines of up to 2.5 litres (2.500cc).  The proposal is geared toward renewing public transportation vehicles such as taxis and buses. (Inside Costa Rica, 9/27/10)

Members of the Legislative Assembly’s Special Commission on Electricity met for the first time this week to discuss the proposal to restructure the electric sector. The Commission includes representatives from both the public and private sectors. (El Financiero, 9/29/10)

In Costa Rica the private sector continues to move toward greater sustainability. Major companies including Kimberely- Clark and Wal-Mart were internationally recognized for their social and environmental work in Costa Rica (La Nación, 9/29/10).  And in a bid to achieve carbon neutrality the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, will initiate a tree-planting campaign on its campus.  (La Nación, 9/28/10)

Carlos Hernández, Director of the  Instituto National de Biodiversidad (INBio) stated that INBio must pursue more business-minded initiatives in order to maintain financial stability. (La Nación, 9/28/10)

IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri, warned against the increasing vulnerability of the Central American region to the impacts of climate change.  A 2008 report from the International Development Research Center ranked Costa Rica as 38th among the 100 nations most at risk from Climate Change.  Specifically water stress in the Central Valley and the Pacific will impact water quality and supply. (La Nación, 9/27/10)        

Costa Rican environmentalist Ricardo Meneses, is leading the effort to pressure  Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica, and Panama to ensure that they fulfill the goals of the 2002 Johannesburg Summit by protecting the Conservation Corridor in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, which includes Cocos Island in Costa Rica  (La Nación, 9/27/10)


The head of the Federal District government, Marcelo Ebrard announced that the Global Climate Pact of Cities or Pact of Mexico City will be signed at the World Mayors Climate Summit to be held on November 21st in Mexico City.  The objective of the summit is for the major cities of the World to come to an agreement and set commitments for reducing greenhouse gases and fighting global warming.  (Milenio, 9/27/10)

A team of scientists and government officials are working on creating a “State Plan of Action on Climate Change” for the Mexican state of Querétaro.  The team plans to conduct a green house gas inventory and create a global warming mitigation strategy over the course of the next two years. (Planeta Azul, 9/27/10)

The new head of the UNFCC, Christiana Figueres stated that an agreement at the Cancun Climate Negotiations will not solve the climate crisis.  “The problem is going to be solved piecemeal, step by step, and the challenge is ensure that this ‘progressive process’ meets the urgency of the problem.” (The Huffington Post, 9/27/10)

Energy Minister Georgina Kessel, stated that Mexico will need an investment of $16 billion in order to develop energy efficiency programs to reduce the electricity demand by 10% in the next ten years, which will grow at a rate of 1.4% over the decade.  (La Crónica de Hoy, 9/29/10)

Head of the Federal District Government, Marcelo Ebrard will announce the first commercial electric vehicles to be introduced into the Mexico City’s taxi fleet in March of 2011.  Public transport, government vehicles, and vehicles for public sale will follow.  (Planeta Azul, 9/29/10)

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.