Latin America Green News: Cleaner Buses in Chile, Sustainable Mining in Costa Rica, and Solar in Mexico

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

November 4 – November 8 2013


A 2012 study estimates that switching from diesel to natural gas to fuel Santiago’s public bus system would reduce 80% of particulate matter emissions and save USD 49 million in health costs each year. The switch could also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide, a major greenhouse gas, to less than a third of present day emission levels. Sixty-one buses are already running on natural gas since 2010 in the region of Magallanes. (La Tercera, 11-7-2013)

It was revealed yesterday that conversations between Energía Austral and the vice president of HidroAysén about connecting their respective dam projects to one of Chile’s two grids via submarine cabling have been taking place since 2010. The announcement reportedly came as a surprise to HidroAysén’s Board of Directors, comprised of representatives from Endesa and Colbún, who were unaware of the conversations until yesterday. (El Divisadero, 11-8-2013; Pulso, 11-8-2013)

Costa Rica

A new project in the Osa region of Costa Rica aims to incentivize sustainable mining, hunting and timber extraction by improving the quality of life for workers in these sectors. Led by Fundes in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Crusa and the National System of Conservation Areas, the project includes among its goals the protection of the Corcovado National Park, which is regularly accessed by about 250 gold miners who have no other source of income. (El Financiero, 11-8-2013)

An analysis of Costa Rica’s water treatment facilities shows that some municipalities have very little water treatment infrastructure per square meter of construction. Without effective water treatment, waste water is returned to rivers and lakes still containing all of the contaminants it gains through domestic and industrial use; nonetheless, more than 70% of Costa Rica’s waste water receives no treatment at all. (El Financiero, 11-8-2013)


Out-of-date regulation relating to land tenure and rural planning constitute the greatest obstacle to developing wind power in Mexico. Though the country benefits from a large potential to develop renewable energies, such as wind, the investment planning necessary for developing them is still lacking. (Vanguardia, 11-5-2013)

The 2013 Solar World Conference concluded yesterday in Cancún after five days of debate over the best applications of renewable energy sources. The Conference hosted delegates from 120 countries totaling at over 1,500 scientists, researchers, companies and government representatives. The Mexican Secretary of Energy announced a new initiative during the conference to integrate solar energy into Mexican renewable energy research institutions in order to consolidate public and private investment within the national solar industry. (Prensa Latina, 11-7-2013)

The Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources is developing strategies and action plans for improving the country’s air quality. A Regional Plan of Action will serve as a guide for local governments, as well as the air quality monitoring system present in 80 locations across the nation. (UniradioInforma, 11-2-2013)


The coastal cities of the Caribbean will number among those communities most affected by climate change, especially Santo Domingo. Flooding, sea level rise, erosion and the salinization of water sources post the gravest threats to the 70% of the Caribbean’s population, including some of the poorest communities, that resides in coastal areas. Among the World Bank’s recommendations for Caribbean climate change resilience are economic diversification, investment in flood control, and more compact urbanization. (Iagua, 11-7-2013)

Latin America Green News will not be available for the week of November 11-15. We will return the following week with more energy and environment news from Latin America.

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