Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 5/21- 5/25/2012


On May 21, President Piñera gave his third annual national address to the country. His speech received unfavorable reactions from environmentalists for its brief and simplistic approach to environmental issues. Flavia Liberona. Director of Fundación Terram, stated “despite the importance of the issue for the country, as illustrated by the many socio-environmental conflicts that create tensions in our lands, the issue was almost entirely absent in the public address of 2011 and in the announcements expressed by Piñera for the next 12 months.” (Government of Chile 5/21/2012, and América Economía 5/23/2012).  

Leaders of the Patagonia Defense Council met with Ignacio Toro, Director of the Environmental Evaluation System, on Wednesday to discuss upcoming proceedings in the ongoing controversy around the HidroAysén mega-dam complex. They specifically discussed the impending meeting of the Council of Ministers, who will hear arguments from the Patagonia Defense Council against the environmental approval granted to the dam project in May 2011. The group emphasized to Toro the need for the Council of Ministers’ meeting to an open and transparent one. (Radio Universidad de Chile 5/24/2012)

Authorities in Temuco and Padre Las Casa declared an environmental emergency on Wednesday in response to bad air quality conditions. To date, they have documented fourteen separate incidences of critical conditions, due to poor ventilation and circulation in zones saturated with air pollution. Authorities are recommending people take immediate short-term actions such as cooking with gas. (La Segunda Online 23/5/2012)

L’Oreal, the international cosmetics company, announced that its new distribution plant in Chile would reduce its energy consumption by 57 percent. The LEED certified building will include efficient water appliances, a new water recycling system, solar water heaters, waste recycling, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and more green spaces.  The $18 million iniciative will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent and water consumption by 23 percent. (Diario Financiero 5/22/2012)

Costa Rica

Using data from satellite transmitters  strapped to turtles backs’, scientists have determined that Pacific black turtles use Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce as feeding grounds because the gulf has extensive areas of marine grass. Researchers from Widecast, the group carrying out the turtle monitoring hope this information will help connect feeding grounds with turtle nesting beaches and allow more effective conservation strategies for sea turtles during their long migrations (La Nación 5/21/2012).

Florida Bebidas, Costa Rica’s largest beverage company launched a new bottle made with 50% recycled plastic as part of its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2017.  Over the next twelve months the company will start using the recycled plastic in all its products and in some cases will use 100% recycled plastic. Rafael Segovia, a company spokesman noted that Florida Bebida’s ability to use recycled plastic in 100% of its products will depend on increasing local consumer awareness about the importance of recycling plastic (Revista Summa  5/8/2012).

Costa Rican researcher Bernal Rodriguez received the 2012 Whitley Prize for his role in increasing knowledge about bats in Central America.  Rodriguez has highlighted that two areas where additional research is needed are: how agriculture affects bat diversity and how to amplify the environmental services provided by bats (La Nación 5/21/2012).


According to Secretary of Environment, Juan Rafael Elvira, the controversial Cabo Cortés tourism project, which could impact the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, cannot go forward unless the project proponent demonstrates that it will not degrade local natural resources. Elvira noted that the March 2011 project authorization had strict conditions, including studies of the marine currents to show that contaminates from the project would not affect the park and its coral reef (Semarnat Press Release 5/22/2012).

Mexico’s wind sector is growing fast and by next year could supply nearly 4 percent of the country’s energy needs. In 2005, Mexico only produced 3 MW of wind power, but the country is now well on its way to producing 400 times that amount, or 2 GW by the end of this year.  By 2020, experts predict that Mexico could produce 12 GW of wind-based power, meeting 15% of its growing energy demand.  Corporations receive discounts on their electricity bills for using wind power, which is helping to boost the sector’s growth (Reuters 5/14/2012).

The Mexican government announced that the Canadian mining company First Majestic Silver will cede 22 mining concessions it holds within lands considered sacred by the Wirikuta, or Huichol, indigenous people.  The company holds a total of 72 concessions that would allow it to carry out mining exploitation in Wirikuta land. The company will also hand over the land to the federal government for its protection. This announcement comes just days before a planned concert of  high-profile musicians in Mexico City aims to draw attention to the threat mining poses to the Wirikuta’s land and culture (El País 5/22/2012).

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.