Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 5/28 - 6/1/2012


In a surprise move, the Board of Directors of the energy company Colbún announced that it wants to suspend progress on HidroAysén transmission line indefinitely because of what it called an uncertain political climate. Its co-owner, another large energy company called Endesa Chile, responded by calling for an emergency meeting of HidroAysén’s Board of Directors. Colbún’s decision was hailed by opponents of the massive hydroelectric project, who also surmised about other possible motives for the company’s move. (ABC News 6/1/2102, 5/31/2012, Radio Universidad de Chile 5/31/2012)

The high-level Committee of Ministers approved new regulations in the government’s Environmental Impact Assessment Process, aiming to improve the evaluation process for new projects. A main focus of the changes is increasing the amount of public participation during evaluations, yet some environmental organizations feel the new changes are not good enough. President Piñera will have to sign the new regulations before they become active. (La Tercera 5/28/2012, Radio Universidad de Chile 5/29/2012)

The Metropolitan Council of Santiago declared an environmental emergency when levels of air pollution grew to high levels for the eighth time this year. As a way to combat the poor air quality, authorities are limiting the number of vehicles allowed to drive during certain hours of the day, and not allowing citizens to use wood- or biomass-burning stoves. (La Nación 5/30/2012)

Costa Rica

The Spanish firm Acciona Ingenieria and its Costa Rican partner Interforest will carry out studies to assess the environmental feasibility of a proposed new international airport in Costa Rica’s Osa region. The propose airport would be located nearly the fragile Terraba-Sierpe Wetlands, which has raised significant concerns among environmentalists and local tourism operators.  The feasibility studies will include a yearlong study to assess the possible impacts on migratory birds since the project is proposed near critical bird habitat (El FInanciero 5/29/2012)

The cloud forests of Costa Rica’s  Coco’s Island may be helping to maintain the rich marine biodiversity that surrounds the world renown island.  Researchers believe that if this forest cover were lost the increased erosion would have a direct and negative impact on nearby coral reef systems. This close link between forest health and marine health may indicate that any changes to the original structure and diversity  of the forest – such as those induced by climate change – could alter  this fragile balance. (La Nación 5/30/2012)


The Mexican Congress gave the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) 15 days to send to the Congressional Standing Committee a written report of the actions during the authorization of the Environmental Impact Statement for the tourism project in Cabo Pulmo called Cabo Cortés. The report should address the alleged collusion between public officials and the developer Hansa Urbana to obtain such authorizations.  (Milenio 05/20/12)

Members of Greenpeace held ​​ a "bike ride" event on Sunday to protest against the construction of the tourism project in Cabo Pulmo in Baja California Sur. Simultaneously, in eight states around the country, the same environmental organization conducted a voting campaign for the conservation of the natural protected area of Cabo Pulmo and against the construction of mega resort Cabo Cortés. (Radio Fórmula 05/27/12)

The Mexican Academy of Science warned that by the end of the century, Mexico could see an increase in temperature of up to 4 degrees Celsius,with potentially disastrous effects on the environment and production activities, particularly, to crops, liquids and food supply. This may lead to disastrous crises that will collapse completely according to the Archdiocese of Mexico, who said that climate change will exacerbate poverty and over half the population will be excluded from goods and services. The prolonged drought and natural disasters seem to be increasingly aggressive against populations, who already have problems of poverty and marginalization. (Vanguardia 05/26/12, La Jornada 05/27/12)

The World Bank (WB) and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) will provide US $ 392 million to the Government of Mexico to promote actions that contribute to sustainable development of forest communities and the fight against climate change. US $350 million corresponds to a World Bank loan and US $42 million to a combination of loan and grant from FIP composed of donor countries. (SEMARNAT 05/31/12)

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.