Latin America Green News: 10/13 - 10/20/2016

Negotiators at the Kigali Convention Center
Credit: David Doniger

World agrees to phase-down HFCs, Chile hands down new regulations to salmon fisheries, Nestlé to go 100 percent renewable in Panama

To get the weekly Latin America Green News blog delivered directly to your email, subscribe here.

October 13 – October 20, 2016

Climate Change

On the heels of the Paris Agreement reaching the threshold to come into force earlier this month, more good climate news came out of Rwanda early Saturday morning when countries agreed to a new amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Latin America showed unity at the negotiations, with every country voting in support of the amendment and agreeing to freeze their productions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2024. The amendment, known as the Kigali Amendment, will avoid the equivalent of more than 80 billion tons of CO2 emissions over the next 35 years by phasing out the use of HFCs, a substance that depletes the Ozone layer. The emission reductions that will result from the agreement are equivalent to stopping all global CO2 emissions for two years.  Countries in the region are hailing the agreement as one of the most significant steps towards abating the devastating effects of global warming. Coupled with the Paris Agreement, these global pacts represent a turning point for the fight against climate change. "The world just got more momentum to keep the temperature below two degrees Celsius," said Marcelo Mena, Undersecretary of Environment and co-chair of the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC). (El Dinamo 10/17/2016)


For more details on the Kigali Amendment and other recent major climate agreements, read Amanda Maxwell’s blog.


85 mayors, representing over 650 million people, have pledged to promote and enhance their ability and obligation to directly combat climate change. In an effort led by Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera of Mexico City and the mayors of Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France a 6-point plan was proposed at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development Habitat III (held in Quito, Ecuador). The points center on the need for guaranteed direct access to international financial mechanisms and a regulatory framework wherein national governments cede control of these funds directly to cities so that they can directly manage and implement their own climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. In conjunction with the New Urban Agenda (a framework to guide cities towards a sustainable growth that ensures protections for the environment and the rights of those who are most vulnerable) Mancera, the mayor of Mexico City, believes these financial reforms can revolutionize the way cities address climate change. (Ecoticias 10/18/16)



The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) of Mexico revealed on Monday that environmental damages are valued to be approximately 4.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and has lead to 36 billion pesos in public health costs. The deputy secretary of Semarnat, Cuauhtémoc Ochoa, speaking at the launch of the Mexican Alliance of Biodiversity and Business, explained the importance of working together with business to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly while maintaining their productivity. He added that there must also be an effort to address the issue of waste management as its current mishandling is leading to approximately 2.5 billion pesos worth of environmental damage per year. With the cooperation of individual states and municipalities, the mishandling must be addressed through the expanded waste management recycling, and water treatment programs. (Noticias MVS 10/17/16)



Federal authorities in Mexico have completed the restoration of three coastal wetland areas in the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, and Quintana Roo. They were restored through the Gulf of Mexico ecological project whose mission is to design and implement actions to conserve, sustainably manage, and restore the coastal wetland systems across the east coast of Mexico. The project is managed by the National Institute on Ecology and Climate Change (INECC) along with the World Bank, several other governmental organizations, and a US$4.5 million investment from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), and aims to reduce the vulnerability of surrounding populations and enhance their environmental resiliency. Despite the success of the project, the director of ecological vulnerability and adaptation for INECC, Margarita Caso Chávez, warned that mangroves and coastal wetlands are still under threat, and urging that conservation efforts must continue as the country loses 2.5 percent of its mangrove wetlands every year and is at risk of losing 50 percent more over the next 25 years. (Terra 10/12/16)

Ñuble River
Credit: Natalia O CatDarm

Chileans celebrated rivers and water rights this week as part of the Open Water Festival, better known as Ñublefest. The festival was initiated by John Clark in 2005 out of inspiration to protect the beauty of the Ñuble River. It aims to promote the protection and defense of rivers, encourage local responsible tourism, and get young people excited about the beauty of the country’s water ways by engaging citizens in water sports such as rafting and kayaking. The festival also features music, lectures on environmental topics, fishing, and teachings on ancestral rites associated with the water bodies. (Ladera Sur 10/13/2016)



The National Service for fishing and Aquaculture (Sernapesca) in Chile has handed down new regulations for the management of fish kills within salmon fisheries. After the loss of 38,000 tons of salmon in January led to a controversial mass disposal at sea, the regulatory agency was forced to reevaluate and design new norms to manage such a situation. The regulation mandates that companies, within 24 hours, must report the event to Sernapesca and provide an action plan to process and properly dispose of the denatured fish. The companies are then given between 48 and 96 hours, depending on the size of the fish kill, to do so themselves or seek outside support. The national director of Sernapesca, Jose Miguel Burgos, explained that he hopes that these new norms clarify what the obligations of the fisheries are and ensure that they have the capacity to deal with any situation so that a repeat of the situation like the one seen in January can be avoided. (El Dinamo 10/18/2016)


Clean Energy

Nestlé announced on Monday that it will source 100 percent of its operational electricity in Panama from renewable sources starting in 2017. The company will directly purchase 10,000 MW of electricity in a 10-year deal from ENEL Green Power, contributing to emission reductions of approximately 2,800 tons of CO2. The announcement made at the Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF) emphasized the company’s commitment to the RE100 initiative, a global network of companies committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy operations. (Energy Press 10/17/16)


The electrification of the taxi fleet in Chile is continuing with the help from a mobile application. Easy Taxi is introducing the first fully electric vehicles into its Santiago fleet. With the ability to travel 260 km and reach speeds of 120 km/h, these vehicles will be able to meet the demands in daily workload of the average taxi in the city.  So far, passengers and drivers have expressed appreciation for the environmental consciousness of the new fleet and laud the ability to track the environmental benefits of their zero-emission trip through the app. (La Nación 10/17/16)


This week's blog was completed with the help of contributions from Alexis Lopez-Cepero.