Latin America Climate, Energy, & Environmental News 10/09 - 10/14/2011


Chile’s green house gas emissions have risen above neighboring countries and OECD member countries,  according to a recent report by the Jaime Guzmán Foundation.  The report highlights that more than 58 percent of Chile’s energy now comes from thermal coal, oil, natural gas and biomass. The other 42 percent of energy is generated by hydropower. This marks a major shift from Chile’s energy generation mix in 1994, when just 17 percent of electricity came from thermal power. The report also questions the increased reliance on imported fossil fuels in Chile’s generation mix. (Diario Financiero 10/15/2011).

Environment Minister Benítez announced that the government will begin studies of land, air and water pollution in the towns of Concón, Quintero and Puchuncaví, where local groups have been campaigning for over ten years for regulation of the heavy industry in the area.  In addition to regulation, these groups are asking for health testing and treatment for all members of the community that have been affected by the pollution, as well as true participation in the review processes that the government will run. A spokesman said that the situation there is so bad that, “the State has to react.”  (Universidad de Chile Radio 10/11/2011)

Researchers have found that Santiago’s pollution has contaminated nearby glaciers and could accelerate melting. Data showed that the glaciers in these areas have developed a different chemical composition than glaciers farther from pollution emitting cities. Scientists will continue conducting studies using current glacier samples and historical data in hopes of better predicting the effects of climate change. (Diario Financiero 10/11/2011)

In response to concerns about the impact of potential water scarcity, the Chilean government has asked the National Energy Commission to conduct a study that will shed light on the status of hydro reservoirs.  Based on the results of the study, the government will decide over the coming weeks on the need for energy rationing.  In particular the government will decide if energy saving mechanisms under an existing rationing mandate are sufficient or if additional measures are necessary, including scheduled cuts to major users.(Diario Financiero 10/13/2011) 

The court of Puerto Montt rejected the appeal of the indegenous community, Antu Lafquen of Huentetique, against the construction of a $235 wind farm project in the town of Ancud. The project, from a local renewable energy firm called Ecopower, includes 56 wind turbines with a combined energy capacity of 112 Megawatts. The courts argued that the wind farm serves as a sustainable investment that does not impede on fundamental rights, while the indigenous people argued that they were excluded from the decision making process. (El Mercurio 10/12/2011)

Costa Rica

The IV Report on the State of the Region concluded that Central America, including Costa Rica which is usually heralded for its green policies, currently has a negative ecological footprint. The data collected states that  the region now requires ten percent more land than is actually available and countries like Costa Rica and Panama have the highest ecological footprint. The report points to national trends that emphasize economic growth over sustainability. This trend is magnified by inefficient energy production and population sprawl which increase the burden on natural resources. (La Nación 10/13/2011)

With the arrival of three Taiwan, China ships in Puntarenas bearing incomplete shark skeletons, officials believe foreign fleets are evading Costa Rican fishing laws which permit shark fishing but ban shark finning. Shark finning is the practice of capturing sharks, removing their fins (which can be worth hundreds of dollars per kilogram) and throwing the live, finless sharks back into the ocean in order to save valuable cargo space. Local law enforcements destroyed the illegal shark cargo, but no one has been prosecuted yet. (TicoTimes 10/14/2011)


Eighty-five percent of Nestlé’s energy needs in Mexico will soon come from wind power. Nestlé, the world’s largest food and nutrition group, announced their investment of over $60 million dollars in sustainability projects in Mexico. These projects aim to cut water consumption by 23% and energy use by 39% per tonne over the next five years. Further growth for Mexico’s wind energy sector is highlighted by five new wind farm projects in progress on the Baja Peninsula. (Renewable Energy Magazine 10/13/2011).

Sol Focus, a leading manufacturer of solar energy and Granite Chief, a Mexican company focused on alternative energy development, announced their partnership  to bring a massive solar energy initiative to Mexico this year in several sectors. The proposal includes a CPV (Concentrated Photovoltaic Technology) project that will provide an increase of about 25 percent in Mexico’s solar energy capacity. Construction is set to commence before the year is over. (Business Wire 10/12/2011)

Mexico aims to reduce its carbon emissions via electric taxis. The Government of Mexico City will implement a pilot program with 100 electric taxis, by February of 2012. Based on the success of the pilot program and further research in car battery efficiency, Mexico hopes to introduce 3,000 electric taxis by 2014. This implementation would result in a 50,000 ton decrease in environmental pollutants released into the atmosphere. (El Universal MX 10/13/2011)

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.