Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 3.14-3.18.2011

Latin America

President Obama is preparing for his trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador on March 19-23, and highlighting the benefits that this trip will bring to the US economy.  (USA Today, 3/18/2011)


The head of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnart), Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, said he will review the environmental parameters for the operation of nuclear power plants in Mexico, after the earthquake and tsunami recorded last week in Japan. (La Jornada 3/17/2011)

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), allowed the loss of more than 111 000 hectares of mangrove in just 5 years. The Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) issued a negative opinion against this ministry for this loss. Environmental groups like Defenders of Wildlife from Mexico, Greenpeace, Teyeliz A.Cl., the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental, AC (CEMDA) and Marielena Hoyo Serengeti Productions, reported that a forest cover of 882 thousand hectares in 2005 fell to 770 000 in 2009, losing 13 percent of the ecosystem. Greenpeace. (3/18/2011)

Today, the Ministry of Environment of Mexico (SEMARNAT) invited the NGOs that reject the construction of the tourist complex "Cabo Cortés" near Cabo Pulmo reef, "to create a common front " to make sure the Spanish company Hansa Urbana meets  the environmental provisions. Around 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) asked in a petition published in the press "salvar" Cabo Pulmo, the only coral reef in the Gulf of California. Agencia EFE. (3/14/2011)

Costa Rica

During the five-year Regional Energy Efficiency Program in Central America, efficiency measures across various industries resulted in a reduction of  6,8000 tons of CO2.  According to data from BUN-CA, the entity that implemented the program, the measures cost $2.2 million and saved approximately 8,404 MWh/year region wide.  (Revista Summa, 3/13/2011)

Following five years of work and research the Coopedota coffee cooperative has launched Costa Rica’s first carbon neutral coffee.  To achieve a carbon neutral product, Coopedota cut the use of fertilizers, reduced energy use and devised a waste management plan.  The cooperative also promoted the production of biofuels and biomass generation from coffee husks. (El Financiero 3/14/2011)

According to Costa Rica’s Director General of Civil Aviation, the proposed airport near the Osa Peninsula would be “ecological” and would include renwable energy, waste management, and  environmental management programs monitored by special commissions. The project is still in the preliminary design phase and construction would start around 2014. (El Financiero 3/20/2011)

Business leaders in Costa Rica launched a new Corporate Chamber for Sustainable Development this week.  The new chamber seeks to advice companies on best practices, advocate for new laws, raise awareness among the public  and promote the consumption of environmentally friendly products and services (La Nación 3/16/2011). During the forum companies including Dole, Tío Pelon, Grupo Holcim, Kimberly Clark and Purdy Motor announced actions and projects they have undertaken to mitigate green house gas emissions (La Nación 3/16/2011). In a related event, Al Gore spoke to Costa Rican business and  government leaders about climate change and stressed that Costa Rica can also be a leader in the fight against climate change.  (La Nación 3/16/2011)


On Friday, March 18, US Ambassador to Chile Alejandro Wolff and Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfredo Moreno will sign a nuclear agreement between the two countries.  Due to the current nuclear crisis in Japan, many advocated against such an accord.  In 2006, current Chilean President Sebastián Piñera signed a public declaration against nuclear development in Chile and in favor of renewables.  (ABC News, 3/18/2011; El Mostrador, 3/17/2011; La Tercera, 3/18/2011)

On March 14, local towns got together alongside Patagonia’s Baker River to protest HidroAysén’s massive hydroelectric proposal on the International Day against Dams.  (Bolson Web, 3/16/2011)

HidroAysén’s President, Daniel Fernández, continued his testimony before Congress on Wednesday, arguing for the project’s approval.  During his testimony, he faced tough questioning from members of the Commission of Energy and Mining.  (Diario Financiero, 3/17/2011)

Energía Austral, the company behind another large hydroelectric project in Patagonia called Rio Cuervo, changed the plans they announced last week to build a transmission line parallel to HidroAysén’s proposed line, by stating that they now expect to share one single 4000 MW line from Patagonia to the main grid 1300 miles away.  (El Mercurio, 3/17/2011)

Paleontologists have discovered a dinosaur unique to Chile, after a decade of research: Atacamatitán chilensis of the titanosaurs family.  (Santiago Times, 3/17/2011)

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.