Latin America Green News: 12/2 - 12/15

Chief of the Umukomasã Tribe
Credit: Eduardo Arraes

Deforestation efforts flop in Central America, Mexico City will ban diesel vehicles, Colombia enters green bond market 

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December 2 – 14


Featured Story 

A recent report released during the Convention for Biological Diversity in Mexico this week shows efforts to thwart forest degradation and destruction in Central America have negatively impacted the indigenous populations who have historically lived in the area and driven deforestation rates. According to the report, hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of forest that have been placed under protection, including protection from indigenous tribal use, have actually seen increased rates of deforestation and exploitation. Data shows that lands managed by indigenous tribes are in better condition than those under protected status, making a compelling case for the use of indigenous management as a form of conservation. In most instances, indigenous tribes are not allowed to enter ancestral lands or visit religious sites and are kept out of lands through intimidation and threats by the government.  Norvin Golf, president of a coalition of Miskito tribes from Honduras said “By not recognizing the indigenous peoples as owners of the protected areas, the government opens our territories to an invasion of people seeking to expropriate the land, destroy the forests, and turn our ancestral home into a source of money.” (Climate Change News 12/8/2016)

Climate Change

The mayors of Mexico City, Paris, Athens, and Madrid publicly committed to ban all diesel vehicles, the most polluting type of vehicles, from city centers by 2025. The number of diesel vehicles has increased in the last few years due to economic reasons, and the fact that they emit less carbon dioxide by burning fuel more efficiently. But according to the United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition, soot from diesel vehicles is among the biggest contributors to air pollution and global warming. Miguel Ángel Mancera, Mexico City’s Mayor said increased investment in public transit would help cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. The mayors also committed to incentivizing the use of electric, hydrogen, and hybrid vehicles in place of diesel. (Clean Technica 12/4/2016)

Two years after the launch of Mexico City’s Climate Action Program, the city reports the program has led to the reduction of 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions. That’s 46 percent of the way to their 2018 goal. According to the city’s Ministry of the Environment, the majority of carbon emission reductions resulted from diverting organic waste to be used as compost, reducing vehicle emissions, and improving public transit by installing new Metrobus corridors. (Noticias Terra 12/6/2016)


Chile’s Ministry of Energy announced 29 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Biobio region were awarded US$ 483,000 towards the installation of renewable energy projects that will have a total installed capacity of 730 kW. The projects were funded as part of the Sustainable SME competition launched by the regional government to increase renewable energy capacity in the region and increase competition of non-conventional renewable energy resources. (See News Renewables 12/9/2016)

EDF Energies Nouvelles and Marubeni inaugurated a new 146 MW solar power plant in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The 500 hectare Boléro Plant will supply electricity to 191,000 homes while cutting 380,000 tons of CO2 in the process. This new installation continues the global trend that has seen global solar installations grow by 48 percent with 76 GW of capacity coming on line this year. 2017 is expected to maintain this momentum with forecasts estimating approximately 70 GW of new installed capacity with EDF contributing a further 115 MW of capacity in Chile with a recently announced project north of the capital city Santiago. (PV Insider, 12/5/16)

Green Financing

Bancolombia, a commercial bank based in Colombia, became the first private financial institution in Latin America to enter the green bonds market. The bonds designed and certified under the green bonds principles were purchased by the IFC, a branch of the World Bank, raising a total of 350 billion pesos (approx. US$115 million). With this initial issuance the bank hopes to directly finance a variety of renewable energy, sustainable construction, and energy efficiency projects and stimulate the development of the green bonds market in Colombia. (El Tiempo, 12/5/16)


Last week Mexico added an additional 65 million hectares of lands to their list of national natural protected areas, putting them one step closer to achieving the goal of placing 17 percent of the national territory under protection by 2020. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed nine decrees, four to declare new biosphere reserves and five to incorporate safeguard zones. He also called their efforts to protect biodiversity a “development strategy for the present and future well-being of humanity." El Tiempo, 12/6/2016

Green areas depict protected natural areas in Mexico
Credit: Mexican Government


Brazilian Amazon deforestation rates grew by 29 percent in 2016, the highest reported in the past eight years. This according to new figures from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). This spike represents an increase in the country’s carbon emissions of 130 million tons and a threat to Brazil’s commitment to reduce deforestation rates to less than four thousand kilometers by 2020. Environmentalists attribute the growth of deforestation to the lack of resources to finance logging campaigns and to keep park rangers, a byproduct of the current economic crisis and the government's decision to promote deep fiscal adjustment to reduce spending. (El Tiempo 12/2/2016)