Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: Week of 7/2 - 7/8/2011


In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, Chile’s Congress banned of shark finning.  The practice, in which shark bodies are thrown back into the ocean after the fin is cut off, has been banned in a growing number of countries, including India, Honduras, Mexico and Panama, as well as many other countries.  (USA Today 7/8/2011)

A new study by Duke University named Chile one of the six most biologically diverse and “at risk” places in the world.  The study’s authors found that those six regions—which also include parts of Mexico and Central America, Ecuador and Peru, southern Africa, southern Australia, and southern South America—are home to 70 percent of the planet’s undiscovered species, many of which are threatened by human development. (Santiago Times 7/7/2011)

On July 2nd, protesters in Patagonia demonstrated against HidroAysén’s massive dam project with a giant “SOS”.  The United Citizens Movement of Patagonia organized the event, in which local citizens of the Aysén region formed the three letters in the regional capital city Coyhaique.  (El Divisadero 7/4/2011; CNN Chile 7/4/2011)

Costa Rica

In response to rising oil costs, the Costa Rican government has instructed all public institutions to prepare energy conservation plans with short- and medium-term actions within the next 45 days. In terms of short term actions, institutions are asked to incorporate green and sustainable guidelines in purchasing decisions, evaluate existing equipment, carry out maintenance of equipment and vehicles, and improve efficiency in lighting, appliances and transportation .The public institutions must also communicate these actions through public awareness campaigns.  In terms of medium term actions, the government decree instructs entities to gradually replace outdated equipment with new technologies.  The decree does not specify how energy consumption is to be measured or how public awareness campaigns will be financed. (El Financiero 7/7/2011)

According to several studies by Costa Rica’s General Controller, the National Environmental Technical Secretary (SETENA) has committed several errors including misidentifying park boundaries and granting environmental viability to projects within protected areas. The studies point out that these mistakes highlight the need to improve processes and resolutions undertaken by SETENA and ensure mechanisms exist to correct such actions. (El Financiero 7/4/2011)


Mexico announced on Thursday a $2.5 billion investment in new wind farms to generate more than 300 MW of electricity across the country, part of the government's push to expand renewable energy. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said new investments would help Mexico reach 2000 MW of wind capacity by the end of his term next year. Mexico leads Latin America in the use of renewable energy equipment such as electric heaters and photovoltaic cells. According to Humberto Cebada, director of Global Solare Company, this industry will grow ten percent in the next 12 months. (Reuters 07/07/11; Exelcior 07/08/11)

The Sustainable Light program starts on Tuesday July 5th, which seeks to replace 45 million 800,000 incandescent for saving lamps, and thus will be less power consumption and low emissions. During the launch ceremony, Jose Antonio Meade, Secretary of Energy (Sener), said that the plan will benefit 11 million 450 thousand users in Mexico. President Felipe Calderon argued that the change of focus could generate savings of between 400 to 500 pesos per year in the payment of power. In addition this avoids the burning of fossil fuels for power generation, he said. (Milenio 07/05/11)

The delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Marco Antonio González Vizcarra, confirmed that the decision issued by headquarters in Mexico City, was dismissed the review petition 190/2011 filed by a citizen resident of Cabo Pulmo, a resource that was developed with support from the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), admitted Agustín Bravo, regional coordinator for the Gulf of California from this environmental organization. However, González Vizcarra stressed that the status of the project is at the same point. The company promoting the project known as Cabo Cortés, needs to show the environmental impact of desalination and water treatment plant and two-year study of coastal dynamics that would decide to open the “mouth” of the marina. (El Sudcaliforniano 07/07/11)


According to a recent report from the United Nations, Latin America was the world region with the second highest level of investment in renewable energy in 2010.  Region-wide investments increased by 39%  over the previous year. (Revista Summa 7/8/2011)

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.

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