Latin America Green News: 11/19 - 12/1/2016

Niños bolivianos observan las obras en el sector de Collpani, desde donde se intentará bombear agua para la ciudad de La Paz
Credit: Agencia EFE

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November 19 – December 1


Bolivia’s Altiplano region—including the capital city of La Paz—is enduring its worst drought in 35 years, with precipitation levels at 10 to 30 percent of normal levels. As a result, many people only have access to potable water in their homes for three hours once every three days. Others have been without potable water for 20 days. The government is responding by bringing water in on trucks and, where the trucks cannot reach, distributing 60,000 liters of bottled water directly to people. The drought has also reached southern areas in Peru, where the government has declared a 60-day state of emergency. (El País 11/29/2016; Jornada 11/26/2016; Mercopress 11/29/2016)

Satellite images showing Lake Cachet's Glacial Lake Outburst Floods
Credit: USGS

Lake Cachet II, located in the foothills of the Aysén region in Chile, has made headlines since 2008 for an unusual phenomenon which causes the river to flood out all of its 200 million cubic meters of water in a matter of hours. The phenomenon is caused by the sudden drainage of lakes dammed by ice walls, also called glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). While not unheard of, this tsunami-style flooding is rare and occurs in almost all mountain ranges in the world at some point. The problem now is that scientists are concerned that global warming has greatly increased the occurrence of this phenomenon in Lake Cachet II and puts citizens of the region at risk of sudden and catastrophic flooding. As of yet, there is no way for scientists to predict when the outburst will occur or stop it from occurring. ( 11/30/2016)

Climate Change

Mayors at a panel at the C40 Mayors Conference
Credit: C40 Twitter

Nearly 50 mayors and deputies from around the world gathered in Mexico City this week for the C40 Mayors Summit to discuss ways in which cities could contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions and spur the private sector to join their efforts. After the U.S. elections, city officials at the conference made it clear they would forge ahead in tackling climate change even without the support of President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janiero, stated that although relationships with the US are uncertain, “the role of cities is very important.” Similarly, Mexico City’s Mayor, Miguel Angel Mancera, reinforced the influence of local governments in effectuating change and assured that climate change is “not part of our imagination but something very real.” (Noticias Terra 11/30/2016)

This week, Finland’s Minster of Agriculture and Environment, Kimmo Tiilikainen, visited Mexico to discuss cooperation on energy projects between the two countries. Tiilikainen also brought with him a business delegation, signaling a desire to bring the private sector into play. The business delegation is composed of nine enterprises, including those in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste treatment. At the moment, more than 30 Finnish companies have subsidiaries in Mexico. The main Finnish exports to the Mexican market are paper industry products and machines. (Noticias Terra 11/30/2016)

Sustainable Infrastructure

Panama’s Department of Energy released its first Sustainable Construction Guide this week, focusing on the design of green buildings as a means to reduce energy consumption in hotels, hospitals, offices, shopping centers, schools, and homes. The technical guide is expected to reduce energy consumption by 15 percent in the first two years and 20 percent thereafter, mitigate climate change, and reduce electricity and water bills. “This resolution is very important because it establishes for the first time, competition for sustainable construction, to regulate aspects of green growth of our country," said Victor Urrutia, National Secretary of Energy of Panama. The document was developed in cooperation by the IFC together with the World Group, the Panamanian Chamber of Construction, the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects and the Technical Board of Engineering and Architecture. (La Estrella 11/19/2016)

In an effort to become a sustainable infrastructure powerhouse, several countries in the region are launching major building projects this upcoming year. For one, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Panama, and Argentina are investing some US $10 billion collectively to expand and improve their metro lines. Renewables energy projects are also playing a big part. Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Uruguay are investing in expanding wind energy projects. Most notably, next year will see the launch of the Central Bi-Oceanic Corridor, a rail route that aims to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. (America Economia 11/29/2016)


Representatives of members of the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) met last week in Quito, Ecuador seeking mechanisms to improve energy integration in order to strengthen the regional economy. A major topic of discussion at the conference was advancing access to energy for the 23 million people in the region that still don’t have it. At the conference, Vice President of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, said that in a competitive and constantly evolving international arena, only energy integration will allow the region to strengthen their economies in the long-term. He also held that climate change presents “profound” challenges, making clean energy development and integration all the more urgent. Importantly, Glas and others called on the region to become strategic allies on this subject, and urged countries to stop relying on the use of raw materials as a source of energy. (La Estrella 11/26/2016)

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a US $100 million loan for Chile to finance a sustainable energy program. With the grant, Chile hopes to boost competition and investment in power generation, promote the development of renewables and energy efficiency and strengthen energy institutions in the country. The goal ultimately is to develop a long-term policy that will increase the participation of non-conventional renewable energy in the energy matrix, thereby helping Chile achieve the goal of 70 percent renewable-powered electricity sector by 2050. (Electricidad 12/1/2016)