Latin America Green News: 6/16 - 6/22/2017

Disturbance map showing forest degradation hot spots in Brazil
Credit: The Silent Forest Project

Latin America Green News: Brazil’s rampant deforestation causes concern, Nicaragua approves energy efficiency law, deadly heat waves expected to slam the tropics 

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The Latin America Green News will be taking a break and will return on July 21st.


June 16 – 22, 2017



Climate Change               


Heat waves will become stronger and deadlier by the end of the century according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers found that one in three people currently experience 20 days a year when temperatures rise to deadly levels, but by 2100 three in four people will endure these conditions if climate change trends continue. Even if emissions were to reduce sharply, almost half of the world’s population would still face the same odds. Camilo Mora, lead author of the report said "We already know it, but the empirical data suggest it's getting much worse... We are running out of options for the future." Pollution levels will exacerbate deadly weather conditions and increase respiratory conditions. Those most affected by these deadly heat waves will be those in developing countries who don’t have the means to access air conditioning and medical attention. Even worse, in countries in the tropics, such as Colombia and Brazil, where normal temperatures are normally hotter and humidity higher, very small temperature increases will cause deadly conditions. (El Universal 6/21/2017)


An anonymous German donor confirmed a US$16.7 million (EUR 15 million) donation this week to Costa Rica for climate change mitigation and adaptation as part of a long-term collaboration between the two countries. The agreement was made official last week with a visit to Costa Rica by the German Minister of Environment, Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Security, Barbara Hendricks. During the trip, Minister Hendricks met with the Costa Rican President, Luis Guillermo Solís, to discuss bilateral cooperation on environmental protection, climate change and sustainable development, which resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement prioritizes the decarbonization of the Costa Rican economy, including the development of electric transport, climate change adaptation, green development, biodiversity conservation and the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both countries also highlighted the importance of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda as reference points for the global transformation to sustainable economies and ways of life. (Prensa Latina 6/19/201)




The future of the Amazon forest seems more precarious than ever. The Silent Forest project launched this week to assess the extent and impact of forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon forest via a “disturbance map” that highlights hot spots of forest degradation caused by urban expansion, illegal logging and other human activity. The map shows the troubling extent of forest loss and underlines the knock-on effect of the forest’s capacity to absorb carbon, regulate temperatures and sustain life. Meanwhile, Norway, the largest international contributor of funds for Amazon protection said this week that they will reduce aid to Brazil for forest protection by one half as a result of rising deforestation rates. They further threatened to reduce that number to zero if rates don’t decrease.  In a letter to José Sarney Filho, Brazil’s Environment Einister, Norway’s Environment Minister, Vidar Helgesen, warned “Even a fairly modest further increase would take this number to zero.” Last year deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 29 percent, a disturbing trend for a country where deforestation and agricultural activities contribute 70 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. (The Guardian 6/20/2017, Terra 6/22/2017, The Guardian 6/22/2017)


Green Finance

A recent conference held in Mexico, Green Technology, An Economic Focus, emphasized the urgent need to start adopting widespread use of the latest green technologies. Applied physics professor and researcher at the Universidad de Sonora in Mexico, Armando Ayala Corona, spoke at the event, highlighting that all human activity has an effect on the environment and stressing that we must do all that we can to reduce this impact. The business sector must get more involved and invest in the production and commercialization of the latest green technologies to promote their widespread use to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Professor Ayala emphasized that efficient green technology is already here, but we need to take steps to make it affordable and accessible to the general public on a global scale. (Terra 6/19/2017)


Clean Energy


Yesterday, Nicaragua’s National Assembly swiftly approved a National Efficiency Law which aims to promote energy efficiency in the private and public sectors. The law contains a provision creating an energy efficiency fund known as Fondefer that will, at the very least, divert 15 percent of funds from taxes on refrigerators, electric motors, and air conditioners to research and educate the public on energy efficiency. The law also establishes March 5th as National Energy Efficiency Day and prescribes an award system to recognize entrepreneurs leading the charge in the field of energy efficiency. This move further solidifies the country’s intent to advance on climate change despite not having joined the Paris Agreement themselves. The country did not do so not because the treaty went too far, but because it did not go far enough. Indeed, the country already gets more than half of its energy from renewable resources and plans to bump that to 90 percent by 2020. (El Nuevo Diario 6/22/2017)


Chile and Portugal signed an agreement last week to promote European investment in Chile’s energy and industrial agriculture sectors. As part of an official Portuguese delegation to Chile, more than 25 of Portugal’s government leaders attended the Chile-Portugal Investment Seminar where total attendance surpassed 100 national representatives and foreign leaders from the renewable energy, industrial agriculture and infrastructure sectors. The seminar was hosted by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and the first Minister of Portugal, António Costa, and gave way to the signing of a Collaboration Agreement between the two countries to develop strategic alliances and deepen their economic ties. Moving forward, Chile and Portugal will work together to identify and share business opportunities in priority sectors, such as energy and industrial agriculture. Portuguese investors will focus on Chile’s energy sector as it represents a great opportunity for future green business endeavors, especially in the increasingly competitive nonconventional renewable energies. (Futuro Renovable 6/15/19)



This week's blog features contributions from Meredith Brown.