Latin America Climate, Energy and Environmental News: Week of 11/06 - 11/11/2011

Costa Rica

In a victory for Costa Rican environmental NGOs and local residents, Costa Rica’s Environmental Secretariat (SETENA) has determined that it will no longer consider a controversial tuna farm project at the mouth of the Osa Peninsula’s Gulfo Dulce.  If the project had moved forward it could have contaminated the region’s biologically rich marine ecosystem and coastal fishing areas.  SETENA’s decision is based in part on the expiration of the company’s permit and an existing court order against the project. (Costa Rica Conservation Network, 11/10/2011)

President Chinchilla met with model Leonora Jiménez and environmental activists Randall Arauz and Andrés Jiménez this week to discuss recent issues with shark finning in Costa Rica. This illegal fishing practice consists of capturing sharks, removing their fins, and throwing the live sharks back into the ocean in order to save cargo space. The team of activists and celebrities hope to help President Chinchilla raise awareness in the fight against shark finning. (Costa Rica Hoy 11/3/2011).

As part of Costa Rica’s mission to be the first carbon neutral country by 2021, the Costa Rican Institute of Railways will implement an electric train to connect Cartago, San José, Heredia and Alajuela. The $250 million dollar project will be complete by 2014 with a carrying capacity of 300 to 400 passengers. (La Nación 11/10/2011) Furthermore, The Diamonds Research Institute in Guápiles of Pococí, Limón, which focuses on agricultural research, will be the first research center to advance with plans for carbon neutrality. The project hopes to pave the way for other Costa Rican research centers to go green as well. (La Nación 11/7/2011)


This week marked a turning point in Chilean energy policy awareness at La Moneda. The Citizen’s Technical and Parliamentary Commission for Policy and the Electricity Matrix (CCTP) launched their new book outlining policy proposals for Chile’s sustainable energy future. (El Mostrador 11/7/2011) On Thursday, they presented their study and recommendations to the president of the Senate, Guido Girardi.  ( 11/11/2011) One of their main energy proposals is a new law which would give the state a greater control over energy production and distribution. The commission also suggested a tax on coal and oil generation; $60 per a megawatt on coal generation and $20 per amegawatt on natural gas generation. Such a tax would both account for the health and agriculture externalities and help generate capital for further investment in renewable energy. (La Segunda 11/7/2011)

Alternative energy projects continue to thrive in Chile as geothermal and solar energy spark broader investment. Companies including CGE Chile, Colbún, Enel Latinoamérica, Anida Energy, and the Escondida mining company are seeking out permits to explore geothermal resources, that could double the country’s current energy capacity. (Diario Financiero 11/8/2011)  In Calama, the solar company SolFocus will install South America’s first solar panel containing Concentrated Photovoltaic Technology (CPV).  This technology turns 30% of the suns light into energy as opposed to current panels which are only capable of converting 19% of the sun’s light into energy. (Diario Financiero 11/9/2009)

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature updated its Red List of Threatened Species, and found that in Chile, 55 percent of amphibians, 48 percent of sharks and 18 percent of mammals are in danger.   The IUCN’s report looked at 61,000 species around the globe, and also reported that 25 percent of the mammals on the planet are in danger of extinction, 40 percent of the reptiles in Madagascar are on the verge of disappearing, and 20 species of amphibians have gone extinct in the last decade. (La Tercera 11/11/2011)


 A joint UNESCO and Ramsar investigative mission will head to Mexico’s Cabo Pulmo coral reef from November 14th  to 18th.  The mission will assess the conservation status of the site, near which tourism developments projects have been proposed.  The joint mission will also issue conclusions and recommendations on the environmental impact evaluation process of the proposed tourism projects. (SEMARNAT Press Release 11/9/11)

The Mexican government succeeded in having six additional wetland sites added to the Ramsar Convention’s list of Internationally Important wetlands.   These recent additions highlight Mexico’s commitment to conservation of these natural areas and brings the total area Mexican Ramsar sites to eight million hectares.  (SEMARNAT Press Release 11/7/2011).

Good news for the yellow turtle of Mexico’s coasts as the Program for the Conservation of the Yellow Turtle has made progress in reducing the bycatch of turtles in the Mexican Pacific and Gulf of Ulloa. Experts met this week to propose a program of increased inspection and supervision in conjunction with the state government and the Fund for the Protection of Marine Resources. (Biosfera 11/10/2011)

This week’s news was compiled by Amanda Wheat

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.