Latin America Green News: 4/28 - 5/4/2017

Family of cocoa producers in Nicaragua
Credit: Veco Mesoamérica

Climate change has impacted half of world’s species, Latin America’s biggest green bond, Entre Rios bans fracking

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April 28 – May 4, 2017

Climate Change

Half of the world’s species of flora and fauna have already shown a change in patterns of behavior due to climate change according to a new study published in the journal Science. The shifts in temperature and rain brought on by climate change have placed a severe amount of stress on species and led them to be displaced, endangered, threatened the food chain of entire ecosystems, and even caused a change in biological and reproductive cycles. This domino effect is of particular concern in Latin America where the greatest biodiversity of species lives. These patterns were not only seen in large animal species but also in disease-causing insects and viruses such as Malaria, and in fungi and pests that cause disease in crops. According to researchers, terrestrial species appear to be forced to move about three meters per decade, while marine species are moving four times faster. (El Espectador 5/2/2017) 

At least 17,000 Nicaraguan small-scale farmers will be trained to deal with the effects of climate change this year. The country is poised to be one of the most affected in the region by the changing climate. The Association of Nicaraguan Producers and Exporters (APEN) and Veco Mesoamérica signed a cooperation agreement that will benefit cocoa producers as well as fruit and vegetable growers. The agreement seeks to generate sustainable and inclusive development by promoting the application of good production practices adapted to the climatic conditions caused by global warming. Funding for the training will come from Veco Mesoamerica and the Belgian government. (Prensa Latina 5/2/2017)


The Colombian town of Yumbo is taking the first steps towards becoming a solar power site,  with a 9.9 MW solar project that will produce 16 GWh a year, and will lead to the reduction of 6,600 tons of CO2. This is great news for a region in Colombia that sits on coal deposits and has historically been one of the largest sources of coal production in the country. The solar plant began construction in March of 2017 and will provide power by the end of the year. The project will be completed by a subsidiary of the Colombian energy company, Celsia. The company hopes to replicate this renewable energy project throughout Colombia as well as Panama. (Energia Limpia XXI 4/30/17)


The regional council of Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes, approved a 10 MW wind farm that will provide clean power to 6,000 homes. This initiative will boost the region’s share of non-conventional renewable energy from two percent to 18 percent making it the region with the largest proportion of NRDC in its electricity system. The Cabo Negro wind farm will cost between US$22 and $24 million with funding from the state-owned energy producer ENAP as well as the regional government. ENAP’s Magallanes manager, Ramiro Parra, noted that the company wants to shift away from fossil fuel production in order to diversify the energy matrix with sustainable alternatives. Construction of Cabo Negro is set to begin in 2017. (El Dinamo 4/28/17)


The Entre Rios providence in Argentina just became the first in the country to ban fracking. This week the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved a law to prohibit all forms of hydraulic fracturing, a technique that generates a high environmental impact and has the potential to contaminate water sources. Juan Pablo Olsson, a member of the group Argentina with Fracking, concluded that “If we want to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, which are becoming evident both in Argentina and throughout the region, we must stop any type of investment in fossil fuels and carry out a transition to a matrix sources 100 percent from renewable energy.” (Diario Registrado 5/2/2017)


It has been a month since the first geothermal plant in Chile and South America opened and things are looking bright. Cerro Pabellón, located in the Atacama region of Chile, now supplies 165,000 Chileans with clean electricity. It appears this is just the beginning of geothermal energy in the country as its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire supplies it with enormous geothermal potential. Conservative estimates put installed capacity potential at 3600 MW. Geothermal energy generates 90 percent less CO2 than a coal-fired thermoelectric plant with the same capacity and is renewable, unlike fossil fuels. (El Dinamo 5/2/2017)


Colombia will receive US$5 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Fund to formulate and implement strategies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The country’s Environment Minister, Luis Gilberto Murillo, who requested the funds, sees the incoming funds as critical to continuing important work already started by the country. Reducing deforestation is a major environmental priority for the country, especially since it is part of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement. Minister Murillo pointed to Colombia’s existing involvement in REDD+, a United Nations mechanism to prevent deforestation, as another major source of support for the country’s continued efforts. (El Pais, 5/2/17)


Green Finance

Green bonds have become an important tool in the financing of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure projects in Latin America. Several public, private, and multilateral institutions from throughout Latin America have issued green bonds since 2015. These bonds have found a range of purchasers, such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as well as private investment banks. Adding to the list of issuers is Colombia’s Davivienda, a private bank that issued USD 150 million worth of green bonds that were purchased by the IFC. The issuing was the largest by a Latin American private institution, with Bancolombia’s green bond sale last year totaled USD 115 million. Both issuances are meant to help the country reach its commitment to lower emissions by 20 percent by 2030. (El Heraldo 4/25/2017)


This week's blog features contributions from Michael Khayan.