Latin America Green News: 6/9 - 6/15/2017

Colombia’s climate vulnerability, Bolivia’s second solar plant, Argentina’s robust year of renewables

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June 9 – 15, 2017


Climate Change             


The threat of climate change has never been higher in Colombia. The Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies and the United National Development Programme teamed up to study climate change risks faced by Colombia, and for the first time provided detailed information on the vulnerability areas of each department and municipality. Over three years, 40 interdisciplinary professionals partook in the country’s largest study on the effects of climate change the country has ever completed. Results from the study revealed 100 percent of municipalities in Colombia are under some type of risk from climate change, with San Andres and Providencia (two Colombia islands) facing the highest risks. Areas of risks include everything from increased droughts and flooding to declines in agricultural productivity. Experts hope the study will serve the country in crafting adaptation and mitigation plans for states and municipalities. (El Tiempo 6/14/2017)


A mere week after President Trump announced he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, Carlos Gay Garcia, coordinator of the Climate Change Research Program of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico said the departure of the United States from the Paris Agreement represents an opportunity to rethink the strategy of local governments and the Mexican government. He said a failure to strengthen and invest in scientific and technological developments to curb climate change will end up costing Mexico between five and 20 percent of gross domestic product per year. He also sees Trump’s action as an opportunity for Mexico to continue its leadership in Latin America and achieve economic and technological independence from the U.S. (UNAM Foundation 6/12/2017)

Read more reactions from Latin America’s leaders to the U.S. withdrawal from Paris in Carolina Herrera’s blog.


Clean Energy


For many countries to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and make the Paris Agreement a success, they must find the financial resources necessary to invest in new forms of clean energy and infrastructure. In the absence of a national development bank, Chile has begun to access creative forms of capital needed to meet climate goals in the form of resources from banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the Latin America Development Bank. In 2015 alone, Chile received over US$50 million from these two entities for green projects. However, certain green projects in Chile struggle to access funding since many companies still view green projects as risky. A green bank could provide the specialization and tools necessary to fund green projects, especially small- and medium- scale projects where accessing funding can the most challenging. Want to know more about green banks? Check out the Green Bank Network. (El Mercurio 6/12/2017)


Argentina submitted a draft of new rules for public consultation on a 2015 energy law as it moves toward a clean energy economy in 2017 – the country’s designated Year of Renewable Energies. If implemented, the new regulation would authorize the sale of power from renewable energy sources to large industrial power consumers by direct agreement. Introduced by Argentina’s Ministry of Energy and Mining, the law will return the right to these consumers to manage their own energy purchases. Consumers haven’t been afforded this right since the Argentine government revoked it years ago, which resulted in expensive, dirty, low quality energy production throughout the country. This represents an important step forward for Argentina as it promotes clean energy options for the country’s largest power consumers. (El Cronista 6/13/2017)


Bolivia confirms US$95 million in financing to build the country’s second solar energy plant and the first for the Andean region of Oruro. Once completed, the plant will produce 62 percent of the region’s energy demand. The construction has been made possible by a US$13 million (EUR 11.5 million) contribution from the French Development Agency along with a donation from the European Union’s Latin American Investment Facility and investment from the Bolivian government. As part of Bolivia’s strategy to convert itself into the Southern Cone’s energy center by investing US$ 29 billion by 2025, this solar plant will help the country reach its goal of producing 10,000 megawatts by the same year. (El Ciudadano 6/9/2017)


As part of Argentina’s RenovAr Program, the remaining 10 projects of the 30 awarded for electricity production by renewable energies will be signed into effect next week. The Ministry of Energy and Mining announced that the program has resulted in the financing of 71 ventures for a total of 3,023 MW of installed power from renewable energies, in comparison to the mere 188 MW of wind energy installed during the entire period 2009 to 2016. In addition to the RenovAr program, Argentina awarded renewable generator park projects as part of its GenRen Program including seven wind farm projects, two solar plants, and one biomass plant. (Télam 6/12/2017)




A new report by group of researchers from U.S. academic institutions and the National Institute of Amazonian Research sheds light on the environmental effects of the more than 100 existing and proposed dams in the Amazon basin. According to the researchers, the effects of proposed dams will trigger hydro-physical and biotic disturbances that will seriously affect the basin’s floodplains, estuary, and sediment plume. To address the issue of accurately evaluating what the effects of a proposed dam to a surrounding ecosystem and basin will be, the team developed a Dam Environmental Vulnerability Index. They also found that “[t]he scale of foreseeable environmental degradation indicates the need for collective action among nations and states to avoid cumulative, far-reaching impacts.” To avoid impoverishment of the Amazon rivers, the team suggests also upping institutional innovations. (Nature 6/14/2017)


This week's blog features contributions from Meredith Brown.