Latin America Green News: 2/17 - 2/23/2017

Mexico City skyline
Credit: Kasper Christensen

Argentina’s first green bond, Colombia seeks new carbon capture source, will climate change lead Mexico City to collapse?

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February 17 – 23, 2017

Climate Change

Mexico City, Mexico’s largest city by population, is undergoing a water crisis so serious it is slowly causing the city to sink. Experts and city officials believe this phenomenon, known as subsidence, is being aggravated by climate change. The city sits on what was once a network of lakes filled by the Aztecs. Warmer temperatures brought on by climate change are causing more evaporation and a higher demand for water, pushing the city to over-exploit underground aquifers and tap distant reservoirs. Much of the city’s porous land that was originally intended for “conservation” has been developed and is now buried deep under layers of asphalt and concrete, unable to filter and absorb water. Already, streets and sidewalks show cracks that, in some instances, have opened up and swallowed people. One study predicts that 10 percent of Mexicans ages 15 to 65 could eventually try to emigrate north as a result of rising temperatures, drought and floods. Arnoldo Kramer, Mexico City’s chief resilience officer says “Climate change has become the biggest long-term threat to this city’s future. And that’s because it is linked to water, health, air pollution, traffic disruption from floods, housing vulnerability to landslides — which means we can’t begin to address any of the city’s real problems without facing the climate issue.” To learn more, visit this interactive New York Times feature. (New York Times 2/17/2017)


Recognizing the vulnerability of its coastal communities to the impacts of climate change, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the government will invest US$110 million to help the Caribbean region of the country with climate change adaptation. Plans include the construction of barriers along urban areas in12 municipalities to protect cities from floods. Santos also announced the continued clean up and improvement of areas devastated by floods brought by the La Niña phenomenon earlier this decade, including the construction of a school and hospital. Currently, almost three million Colombians have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change according to President Santos. (NTN 24 2/17/2017)




Chile’s National Service for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca) has warned of a recently discovered red tide along the coast of the Chilean Patagonia in the area of Yelcho. The tide has resulted in a temporary ban on the extraction of seafood from the area. The tide is associated with an amnestic poison, which, while not life-threatening, may cause intestinal sickness. According to officials, the tide is not the same life-threatening one which plagued the region last year. Meanwhile, the Aysén and Magallanes regions are under yellow alert due to an observed proliferation of algae in the region and concern over the spread of amnesic poison along the coasts of these two southernmost regions of Chile. (Cooperativa 2/15/2017)


Green Finance



The Argentine province of La Rioja became the country’s first green bond issuer, seeking to use the US$200 million bond to fund the doubling of the capacity of the Arauco SAPEM wind energy farm. Puente, a financial services entity, along with the Union of Swiss banks are responsible for the placement of the bond, which has a fixed rate of 9.75 percent per annum in US dollars for a period of eight years with repayment in four years. The green bond issuing was in line with a broader government plan named Renovar that is focused on expanding clean energy. So far, Renovar has approved 47 projects that will provide 2,390 megawatts of energy when complete. The lieutenant governor of La Rioja called the green bond “historic” as he highlighted that this was the first time that the province accessed international funding. (Telam 2/17/2017)

Páramos Sumapaz in Colombia
Credit: Daniel Amariles

Colombia will utilize its alpine tundra ecosystems to fund carbon credits beginning this year. These ecosystems, also called páramos, absorb significant amounts of carbon when they are left untouched by industrial development. The country will begin by targeting the páramos of the Boyaca department, which makeup 18.5 percent of the country’s total and comprise 538,000 hectares. A study by the Pedagogical and Technological University of Boyacá revealed that the virgin moors of this region have the capacity to sequester more than 200 million tons of carbon per hectare every year. In order to achieve the marketing of these carbon credits, Colombia will now seek international accreditation to certify the ecosystem’s ability to absorb carbon. As of now, Colombian officials are in discussions with representatives of the governments of Sweden, Stockholm, and the European Union who have expressed an interest in the project. (El Colombiano 2/11/2017)




The Central America Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) announced it will be financing two new renewable energy projects in Costa Rica. The first project, worth US$80,000 will support the installation of storage systems at the University of Costa Rica by assisting with pilot tests to determine optimal conditions for efficient energy storage by overcoming traditional variables (such as lead batteries). The second project, also worth US$80,000, will assist with the implementation of a Renewable Energy Generation Laboratory at the National Institute of Learning in Costa Rica. The lab will serve to train young people and develop technical courses on energy efficiency processes. According to Dr. Alberto Cortés Ramos, BCIE Director for Costa Rica, an important aspect of these projects is that they are highly replicable in the rest of the region and can serve to improve energy supply for Central America. (Prensa Latina 2/16/2017)




Within the last year, 46 municipalities in Chile have independently regulated the use of plastic bags, some restricting their use and some completely banning them. In response, the Ministry of the Environment created six voluntary technical standards to support the municipality’s regulation of plastic bags. Chileans use over three billion plastic bags per year, 97 percent of which end up in a landfill or the ocean. Marcelo Mena, Undersecretary of Environment, said “Reducing the use of plastic bags is an environmental necessity because it often ends up in water systems and the ocean. Scientific evidence indicates that 80 percent of marine birds have some type of plastic in their stomach.” (El Dinamo 2/22/2017)Dinamo 2/22/2017)


This week's blog features contributions from Michael Khayan.Khayan.