Latin America Green News: 4/7 - 4/13/2017

Credit: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

Argentina’s wine production took a hit last year, Chilean’s concerned about air pollution, will another action aimed at saving the Vaquita work this time?

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April 7 – 13, 2017

Climate Change

Following the worst floods of the past two decades that left Peruvian communities reeling, President Pablo Kuczynski spoke out on the importance of emergency preparedness and climate change adaptation policies this week. Kuczynski said the El Niño phenomenon will “occur with higher frequencies due to climate change” and that the only way to plan for it is to divert funds towards a plan that prevents flooding, especially in urban areas. He warned that the flooding could cause Peruvian GDP growth estimates to be reduced to between 3 and 3.5 percent this year due to the amount of reconstruction that must take place. The immediate priority, however, is to provide temporary housing to the 15,000 displaced Peruviansalthough the reconstruction process is expected to take three years. The rehabilitation of infrastructure offers an opportunity to attract private investment, as Kuczynski claimed that construction firms could receive land offerings in exchange for their work. (Gestion 4/6/17)

It might be time to start guarding your wine collection. Once again, grape crops faced a difficult year in 2016 leading wine production to decrease. Argentina, one of the world’s leading wine producers, saw an almost 30 percent decrease in hectoliters of wine produced last year thanks to a dismal grape harvest. Though the severe weather conditions occurred in various regions, it hit worst in Mendoza, where 70 percent of Argentina’s grapes come from, affecting small, medium, and large producers. Brazil meanwhile saw a staggering 55 percent drop in production volume. The International Organization of Vine and Wine attributes the drop in production to climate change, pointing in particular to the frost and icy weather brought on by a particularly strong El Niño cycle for the decreased productivity. (Clarin 4/11/2017)


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet formally signed the Paris Agreement this week at Quilapilún, one of the country’s solar photovoltaic plants. With the signing, the Bachelet renewed Chile’s commitment to reducing emissions 30 percent by 2030 and highlighted that the government was in the process of creating the Agency for Sustainability and Climate Change. The Agency’s mission will be to generate solutions to the industrial challenges, produce information to explain the necessity of climate change adaptation and offer financing to achieve said changes. Bachelet also took the opportunity to draw attention to President Donald Trump, noting how his policies ran contrary to those of Chile on climate change: “While there are other countries that irresponsibly insist on doubting [climate change], ignoring the evidence presented by a majority of scientific work, in Chile that discussion has been settled: climate change is a product of human intervention and its solution must also be found in human intervention. For that reason, Chile has decided to act.” (Ahora Noticias 4/11/17)


Marine Conservation 


Last month, an environmental group found a dead newborn vaquita marina with its umbilical cord still attached washed up on the shore of a beach near the Northern Gulf of California. Two weeks ago, the Mexican government announced they would roll out an emergency plan to save the vaquita from extinction. With less than 30 vaquitas remaining, the clock is running out. This week, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Sagarpa) extended the temporary suspension of commercial fishing with gill nets by fifty days, through May 31, in the Upper Gulf of California. The suspension was put in place to protect vaquitas from their leading cause of death: becoming ensnared in gill nets used for capturing of totoaba, a lucrative fish sold on the Chinese black market for its alleged medicinal qualities. Sagarpa added that the Secretary of Environmental and Natural Resources, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Navy will “maintain and reinforce the surveillance measures in the polygon protecting the vaquita and combat illegal fishing of totoaba.” (Phys 3/17/2017, Proceso 4/11/2017)


Sustainable Development

Credit: Argentine Presidency

The 2017 World Economic Forum on Latin America launched last week. The event featured a forum in Buenos Aires on Latin America that identified several key aspects for regional prosperity. Hosted by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the forum was attended by members of public, private, and multilateral institutions. Alicia Barcena, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, noted the importance of political and social integration of the region in addition to diversification of production and reduction of economic inequality. Barcena also emphasized the need to create a continuous dialogue between government, civil society, and extractive industries. She stated that this dialogue was necessary in order to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development goals that the region has established to achieve by 2030. (Listin Diario 4/10/17)

  • To see content and summaries from the World Economic Forum on Latin America including sessions on climate change and renewable energy visit here

Air Pollution


Results for Chile’s third annual National Environmental Survey revealed Chileans’ chief environmental concern is air pollution, with 38 percent of respondents selecting it as their top answer. Air pollution was closely followed by the accumulation of trash on the streets, traffic congestion, and climate change. Along with the release of the results, Environment Minister Marcelo Mena, highlighted that increased public awareness and visibility of environmental problems means citizens are demanding long-term solutions. Academics from the University of Chile who had a role in the survey assure that this increased awareness is also leading some citizens to take personal action, such as installing solar panels or riding their bikes, not only because it is financially advantageous but also because they care about the underlying issue. (Diario Chile 4/10/2017


This week's blog features contributions from Michael Khayan.