Latin America Green News: Chile to cut CO2, Costa Rica slashes clean car tax, and Mexican mining expands

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

July 20-26 2013


The Ministry of Environment is heading up a team of actors who are figuring out how Chile is going to meet its commitment, made at the United Nations Summit in Copenhagen in 2009, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020. Using Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios, the team has calculated that Chile will have to reduce 25-35 million tons of carbon dioxide to meet its climate goal. These reductions will come from the energy and forestry sectors. (La Tercera 7/23/2013)

During the first half of 2013, Chile added 181 MW of non-conventional renewable energy capacity, 9.5% more than what was installed in all of 2012. This amount includes 175 MW at new projects and 6 MW representing expansions in existing projects.  Wind power represented most of the new projects with 97 MW, followed by mini hydro with 46 MW, biomass with 25 MW and 7 MW of biogas. During the same period, renewable sources generated 1,860 GWh, a jump of 34% over the previous year. An additional 230 MW are expected to come on line by the end of the year. (Estrategia 7/26/2013)

The Minister of Housing and Urbanism and the Minister of Energy launched a new energy efficiency seal for homes. The goal of the new certification system is provide Chileans with objective information about the efficiency performance of homes and greater access to building efficiency savings. (Government of Chile press release 7/25/2013)

A report from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) identified 21 areas in the Pacific that should be protected due to their ecological and biological importance. Five of those 21 areas are in Chilean territory. They include the high seas near the submarine Nazca, Salas and Gomez ridges; the upwelling of the Humboldt Current in northern, central and southern Chilean waters, and the convergence zone known as the “Chiloense Ecoregion” which is the main feeding and breeding area of the blue whale population in the South Pacific. (Paper Blog 7/23/2013)

Costa Rica

Under a newly signed decree, the tax rate for importing hybrid vehicles will fall from 15% to 10%.The tax rate for importing new or used conventional vehicles is between 30% and 53%, depending on the model year. The new decree also urges all public sector institutions to modernize their vehicle fleets with hybrids or vehicles that use alternative energy like electricity, gas, or LPG. (El Financiero 7/22/2013)

Policies to improve efficiency in urban transport could save countries US$ 70 billion through 2050, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency that looks at 30 sample cities  that improved transportation efficiency through better urban planning and trip planning. In contrast, in Costa Rica, various efforts to improve urban transportation have failed to progress, including plans to revamp bus routes to reduce congestion, build an electric train and regional urban planning and zoning. (El Financiero 7/24/2013)


The land area under open pit mining concessions in Baja California Sur increased by 36 thousand hectares between May 2012 and March 2013, putting many of the recharge areas of the local aquifers at risk. The groups Water is Worth More than Gold (AVMO) and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) have criticized these mining practices, using the World Day against Open Pit Mining as their platform, stating that they are not against mining, but the practices that allow toxins to endanger the water sources. The municipality of La Paz has the highest concentration of open pit mining concessions, covering 12% of the territory and affecting the recharge areas of Las Cruces, Las Trincheras, and parts of La Laguna. These areas are considered to be the principal recharge zones of the aquifers in the region. (La Jornada 7/22/2013).

Delegations from Mexico and the United States met for the 4th Meeting of the Bilateral Mechanism on Clean Energy and Climate Change, a meeting created in 2009 to facilitate dialogue and collaboration on climate change issues between the two countries. The high-level delegations discussed the advances made by each country on policies to promote renewable energies and innovative technology. Mexico presented its recent General Law of Climate Change and the National Strategy on Climate Change for comment, while the United States presented their Climate Action Plan also for comment. (Reve 7/25/2013)

Mexico hosted the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) working group which is comprised of 66 members, including 33 countries, 6 intergovernmental organizations and 27 NGOs,  that are working to rapidly reduce emissions of short lived climate forcers, in particular methane and black carbon.  The Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Juan José Guerra Abud, reiterated the necessity of these meetings in order to create mutual goals and specific commitments for each country. Mexico was also lauded for being the first country to create a comprehensive inventory of short-lived pollutants, which maps out major sources of emissions and helps create effective policies to reduce these emissions. (Periodico Express 7/24/2013)

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