Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 4.4-4.8.2011


The Brazilian government rejected calls by international groups and citizens, including the Organization of American States, to halt construction on the controversial Belo Monte Dam. The pleas were based on the lack of consultation with the indigenous peoples who would be affected by the Dam, and its expected environmental damage.  (New York Times 4/5/11)


Swedish and British Scientists reported that the glaciers in Chile’s Southern Patagonia have melted “dramatically” in recent decades.  They published their new measurements of Patagonia’s ice fields and glaciers last Sunday.  (Clarín 5/4/11)

Eight businesses initiated the region’s first “climate market” to promote green markets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America.  Created by Fundación Chile and Celfin Capital, the market will allow the companies to trade CO2 emissions certificates, or carbon bonds. (Diario Financiero, via Electricidad Interamericana 4/8/11).

Energy and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne asked President Piñera to more aggressively confront popular disapproval of nuclear and coal-fired energy plants.  Golborne would like the President to create a communications strategy to change citizens’ perceptions of these types of projects.  (La Tercera, via Electricidad Interamericana 4/8/11).

A new species of sea swallow was found south of Puerto Montt, making it the first newly-discovered marine bird species in the world in 40 years.  The swallow was identified by British expert Peter Harrison and Michel Salaberry from the University of Chile.  (La Tercera 4/7/11)

A top TV station suspended the popular nature documentary series “The Land We Live In” when the documentary’s creator, Sergio Nuño, admitted to receiving money from cellulose company Celco to show that the company was not responsible for the 2004 contamination of the Cruces River, which led to the death of thousands of black-necked swans and threatened the water supply in Valdivia.  (Radio BioBio 4/9/11)

Costa Rica

The Costa Rican government released a “Petroleum Contingency Plan”  to deal with sharp increases in oil prices over the coming months. Environment & Energy Minister, Teofilo de la Torre announced a plan based on 50 actions, 12 immediate and 38 long-term.  Short-term actions will begin on May 2nd and should save 5% to 7% in fuel consumption at a cost of $130 million per year. (El Financiero 4/5/11)     The initial measures include increasing the use of biofuels, and RECOPE announced that by June 2012 it will expand its ethanol program nationwide. (La Nación 4/6/11)  In addition, the government will expand vehicle restrictions in downtown San José, promote energy savings in government buildings, create incentives for solar panels, push forward a bill that would allow geothermal generation in national parks, and promote the use of the train. Tele-commuting is another measure the government has proposed to reduce fuel use.  However, there is currently no mechanism for measuring  and tracking fuel savings from this approach. (El Financiero 4/7/2011)

Costa Rica’s National Electricity Institute (ICE) is analyzing the possibility of creating a consortium with Brazil and China to lower the costs and expedite the construction of the Reventazón Hydroelectric dam.  To date about 21% of the project has been completed. The Reventzón dam would have a capacity of 305 megawatts, enough to power 525,000 homes. (La Nación 4/8/11)  In order to move forward with another proposed dam, the Diquís dam in the south,  Costa Rica has asked the United Nations to help solve a conflict between ICE and the indigenous Térraba community.  ICE requires 7,000 hectares to construction the 630 MW dam, including 900 hectares located within and indigenous reserve.  A UN special envoy on human rights will visit the site in late April. (La Nación 4/4/11)

An improved network of meteorological stations will gather data about how climate change is affecting Costa Rica and its biodiversity.  The six new stations are a joint project of Costa Rica’s National Meteorological Institute and the UN Development Program.  The stations will be located in protected areas, including the Golfo Dulce. The goal of this program is to evaluate current and future vulnerabilities in order to propose climate change adaptation strategies. (La Nacion 4/7/11)


The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of reported that 1,858 whales visited El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in the 2010-2011season, exceeding the historical average of the last 15 years.  The head of the Ministry, Rafael Elvira Quesada, said that based on surveys conducted by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas 275 adult gray whales and 101 whales calves, for a total of 376, were recorded in Laguna San Ignacio. (Pueblo en Linea 4/8/11)

Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Rafael Elvira Quesada presented the results from the UNCCC’s COP16 in December 2010 in Cancun, to the Roundtable on Energy and Financing Access at the Bloomberg Summit 2011, which took place in New York from April 4 - 7.  (SEMARNAT, 4/7/11)

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.

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