Latin America Green News: Chile attracts renewables, Costa Rica repeals national parks sales tax, Mexico approves energy reform
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
August 2nd – August 8th, 2014
Chile has been ranked number 13 out of 40 countries on the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index’s June 2014 report, the second Latin American country to make the top 15. Chile’s large scale renewable energy projects, constant approval of new projects and proposed green taxes has helped to push its attractiveness to renewable energy investors. The Center for Renewable Energy’s July report shows that Chile has more than 11,000 MW approved with environmental permits and more than 700 MW already under construction. (El Dínamo 8/5/2014.)
The Barrick Gold mining company signed a contract with Seawind for the design, supply and installation of new monitoring equipment for Barrick’s Punta Colorado wind park. The project will entail installing a solar panel, equipment and data recorder to track weather information for the wind park. The seventy million dollar project will seek to connect the wind power generated to the transmission network. (El Dínamo 8/8/2014)
Most of the population in the Aysén region of Patagonia rejected the HidroAysén dam project and local groups are now working to achieve energy independence through the use of non-conventional renewable energy sources. Proponents of these energy options point out the region could meet its energy needs with low-impact, mini hydroelectric plants, wind and geothermal energy. Currently, Aysén has some of the highest energy costs in the country and the capital Coyhaique is among the most contaminated due to the use of wood-burning and diesel generators. But some residents are already having successful experiences with solar panels and wind installations. ( IPS Noticias 8/6/2014)
At the request of the Vice Ministry of Water and Oceans, experts have analyzed the decree that created two fishing zones for exclusive use by the long-line tuna sector and found it lacks a technical basis. The fishing zones were decreed by the former Chinchilla Administration and exclude foreign fishing fleets in favor of national fishing vessels. However, the new analysis finds the fishing zones does not provide sufficient conservation measures for marine species including turtles, sharks or tuna. (CR Hoy 8/7/2014)
The Ministry of Energy and Environment as repealed a decree imposing a 13% sales tax for entering Costa Rican national parks. The decree, approved in April, would have increased tourism rates for both foreign and domestic travelers. The sales tax was repealed so that it would not negatively affect Costa Rica’s tourism sector or its citizens. (CR Hoy 8/5/2014).
Costa Rica has added a new flower to its list of endemic species from the Osa Peninsula. The newly discovered flower is part of the Passiflora family that includes species with edible fruits like passion fruit. This new discovery raises the number of Costa Rica’s endemic “passion flower” species to fifty-two. (La Nación 9/8/2014)
Mexico and Colombia will work together to establish monitoring and reporting standards for land use change and climate change impacts on biodiversity in the region. One of the initiative’s goals will be to set up MAD-MEX in Colombia, a system developed by Mexico’s National Biodiversity Commission that helps process satellite imagery to track REDD+ activity. (El Economista 8/8/2014)
The Mexican Congress has finished approving the package of “secondary legislation” that will implement the energy sector reform and allow private investment in fossil fuels and electricity. The legislative package now goes to President Peña Nieto who is expected to ratify it next week. The final version of the bills prohibits hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in protected areas, a concern raised by environmental groups. However, it does permit fracking and investors who successfully extract shale gas are required to pay land owners between 0.5 and 3 percent of their earnings, in comparison to 0.5 to 2 percent of earnings for oil. (CNN Méxcio 8/6/2014; Vanguardia 8/7/2014)