Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 5.30. - 6.3.2011


The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) argues once again that Cabo Cortés tourism development, to be built in the next 30 to 40 years, not only meets the guidelines established environmental law but is sustainable and has high development potential. ( 6/2/2011)  

With nearly with six-months delay and without a defined rate, the transport units Ecobús were launched to the public with a new "green” route. These buses use compressed natural gas, cleaner than diesel, which will reduce more than three thousand tons of emissions annually. (El Universal 6/2/2011)

Nissan Mexicana will gradually replace traditional electricity and LP gas, used by its plants and offices, with alternative sources like solar, wind, hydro and biogas. In an interview with El Semanario, Marco Rivera, manager of the Environment and Security of the Japanese automaker says the goal by 2020 is that 70% of the energy used by the company comes from alternative sources. ( 6/1/2011)

Costa Rica

The industrial sector consumes 25% of energy in Costa Rica and within this sector the food industry utilizes 63.1%.   These emissions come from three main sources: combustion, refrigerants and transportation.  Emissions from combustion could be reduced by 20.8% by substituting boilers, improving insulation, and increasing the use of biomass and co-processing.  In terms of refrigerants Costa Rica has already eliminated the use of CFCs but other types are still in use, including HCFCs which are set to be phased out by 2030. To cut down on transportation emissions the Chamber of Industries is now promoting UNEP’s Clean Driving Initiative. (El Financiero 6/2/11)

The UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous affairs, James Anaya, has recommended that the El Diquís dam in southern Costa Rica should only move forward based  on the outcome of consultations with local indigenous communities.  During the initial study phase of the project the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) which is developing the dam, occupied indigenous territory sparking an escalating conflict with local indigenous communities. (La Nación 6/2/2011)

Costa Rica’s program of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) has protected or reforested a total of 728,814 hectares since it was launched in 1997, the equivalent of 14% of the country’s total territory. This measurement is based on a cumulative total of hectares over the years and not all are currently protected since contracts under the PES program only run from five to fifteen years.  (El Financiero 5/31/2011)


According to a new national poll, President Piñera’s approval rating is at 36%, an all-time low.  The polling agency, Adimark, attributes this drop to the government’s approval of HidroAysén in early May, which has ignited continuing protests throughout Chile. (El Mercurio 6/2/2011; National Public Radio 6/1/2011)

The CFO of Endesa, Eduardo Escaffi, announced that the cost of HidroAysén has risen to US $10 billion. Endesa is one of the parent companies of HidroAysén, whose previous price tag was US $7 billion. (Business News Americas 5/25/2011)

Members of Parliament announced the formation of a “Parallel” Energy Commission to study and propose national energy policies, separate from the Energy Commission that the government announced weeks ago. The group, which is also comprised of academics, experts and civil society groups, believes that the commission the government formed will not effectively address existing problems. (El Divisadero 6/1/2011)

The Chilean solar panel company, Chile Solar, was one of 20 companies out of 1000 to win an award at the 4th Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship in Helsinki, Finland.  (El Mercurio 6/3/2011)


The controversial Belo Monte Dam received its final environmental approval from the Brazilian authorities.  The 11.2GW project, which plans to flood a portion of the Xingu River basic and therefore affect thousands of indigenous people, has been at the center of a heated debate for years.   (The New York Times 6/1/2011)


The World Bank approved grants for eight countries, including Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico, to help them analyze and create greenhouse gas trading programs.  The grants are a part of the new Partnership for Market Readiness, a WB initiative that came out of the UN climate summit in Cancun last year.  (Bloomberg News 6/2/2011)

Central America has the potential for up to $392 million in energy efficiency projects according to regional NGO  BUN-CA. Such investments in efficiency could result in savings of 2,822 GWh/year in electricity use and prevent the release of 1.5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year. The head of BUN-CA, José María Blanco, highlighted that it is critical to increase awareness  in Central America about efficiency as a business opportunity in the electricity sector and  highlight its benefits over the installation of additional generation plants.  (Revista Suma 6/2/2011)


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.