Latin America Green News: 6/2 - 6/8/2017
Latin America celebrates #WorldEnvironmentDay and reacts to the U.S. withdrawal from the #ParisAgreement
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June 2 – 8, 2017
Coinciding with United Nation’s (UN) World Environment Day, the UN Oceans Conference began this Monday in New York City. The objective of this week-long event is to bring together hundreds of leading experts from the scientific community, government, institutions and NGOs to find and implement concrete solutions to reduce marine pollution. Throughout Latin America, World Environment Day was commemorated with events relevant to the issues facing each country. Colombia for one, celebrated by planting more than 150 plants on the site of what was once a landfill. During Monday’s activities, the Director of the national government’s environmental agency encouraged Colombian citizens to care for the environment by using good practices, such as driving less and traveling by bike. Students from the Laredo District of Peru, together with the Regional Agriculture Department and the National Police, also planted trees to celebrate the occasion to promote caring for the environment with the goal of making its citizens agents of change and ecological preservation. Meanwhile, Argentina used the day as a platform to launch a reforestation initiative aimed at planting one million native trees with help from schools and students around the country. (EITB 5/6/2017, El Universal 6/5/2017, La Republic 6/5/2017, Ecoticias 6/6/2017)
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet wrapped a state visit to Canada this week where she once again cemented Chile’s commitment to strong climate action and showed support for the North American Free Trade Agreement saying “We are partners with Canada, we share values as open and fair trade, and we have played a positive role in promoting the benefits of free trade." In a press conference later, Bachelet expressed Chile was "very disappointed by the United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement because it is everyone's responsibility." Bachelet then also signed a bilateral agreement with Governor Inslee of Washington State to work together on climate change, natural disaster response, and clean energy. (EFE 6/6/2017, El Mercurio 6/7/2017)
A group of ministers from the High Ambition Coalition issued a joint statement declaring their “unshakeable” commitment. The signatories included ministers from over twenty countries, including several from Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Grenada, Mexico, Saint Lucia, and Uruguay. Costa Rica also lamented that the decision and signaled that the retreat on climate by the U.S. should drive other countries to deepen their efforts, including on climate finance for vulnerable countries. In a series of tweets President Solís reaffirmed Costa Rica’s “unwavering” support for global action against climate change. Read more reactions from Latin America’s leaders to the U.S. withdrawal from Paris in Carolina Herrera’s blog.
82 percent of Cuba’s nearly 500 beaches show signs of erosion due to climate change according to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. Findings also revealed country’s coastline is currently declining at a rate of 1.2 meters annually, with sea levels expected to rise 27 centimeters by 2050. In addition to beach erosion, the country has been grappling with a severe drought that has affected 71 percent of the country, threatening water supplies for almost one million people. Moreover, biologists have tracked an alteration in migratory times of several species and a decline in honey production due to a shift in flowering periods. (El Ciudadano 6/4/2017)
In 2018, Mexico will formally launch its carbon market with the participation of between 400 and 700 companies, representing 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Although Mexico has had a voluntary carbon market since 2013, the development of this formal carbon credit market will necessitate investment into new technologies and renovations in industrial processes in the country. The demand of what is expected to be a highly competitive market will determine the price of carbon. In the next five years, Mexico hopes to develop a North American regional carbon market with the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, last week in Mexico’s Stock Exchange, 57 institutional investors representing US$ 2 billion and 20 percent of the country’s GDP signed an unprecedented agreement in favor of the development of a green bond market to support the financing of green projects to mitigate climate change. It sends a clear message that Mexico has the capacity to become a leader in the development of green bonds in Latin America. The agreement recognizes that combatting climate change requires large investments to finance projects in various sectors including renewable energy, low carbon transportation, infrastructure for water and waste management, and sustainable construction. (El Economista 6/5/17, El Economista 5/31/17)
Renewables had their best year yet in 2016 according to new reports from REN21, a network of public and private sector groups 96 percent of the world’s population. Despite overall total financial investments in renewables declining last year, capacity around the world was boosted by a record amount and delivered at a markedly lower cost. In Denmark, Egypt, India, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates, renewable energy options were priced well below fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Worldwide, new solar power provided half of all new capacity, making it the largest provider of new energy, followed by wind power at a third and hydropower at 15 percent. Vivien Foster, global lead for energy economics at the world bank said “Over 2016 there has been a dramatic and sustained improvement in the competitiveness of renewable power generation technologies. The most spectacular renewable energy prices were revealed through auctions that are gaining in popularity in many countries.” (The Guardian 6/6/2017)
Chile’s Ministry of the Environment has launched the “Know your Fauna” public campaign to raise awareness about endangered and threatened species unique to the country. The campaign features giant illustrations of 15 of Chile’s most iconic and unique species disseminated in various parks and public spaces in the country and an educational coloring book for students to be distributed in schools. Among the species featured in the campaign are Darwin’s fox, the panda ant, a marsupial called monito del monte and the Arica hummingbird. Cristian Becker, the curatorial and scientific director of the National Museum of Natural History said about the initiative, “As guardians of the natural heritage of Chile, it is very important for us to promote the protection of our native species raise awareness about their conservation.” (Cooperativa 6/4/2017)
Organized by the Panama Chapter of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation (SMBC), Tetra Pak, and local scientific institutions, Panama held its First Symposium on Conservation and Ecosystem Management. Covering technical aspects, academic studies, and ongoing research, the event took place in the Coclé Province in Panama at the end of last month and served to share information and discuss plans to manage and conserve the country’s biodiversity. Tetra Pak presented on their recycling programs and the importance of recycling for the protection of natural resources, specifically urban forests. (La Estrella de Panamá 6/6/2017)
This week's blog features contributions from Meredith Brown.