Latin America Green News: 9/20 - 9/28/2016

Credit: Mario Chaves

Mexico’s second energy auction proves successful, Bolivia aims to eradicate illegal deforestation by 2020, thousands of Chilean children help clean up beaches

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September 20 – 28, 2016

Climate Change

Colombia made headlines this week when President Juan Manuel Santos and the leftist rebel group known as FARC, signed a historic peace agreement effectively putting an end to the world’s longest armed conflict. In continued celebration of the “party of peace”, Minster of the Environment, Luis Gilberto Murillo, announced Colombia will be allocating US$ 300 million towards sustainable rural development, conservation of biodiversity, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. He pointed to the profound environmental degradation caused by the five decades of armed conflict and contended that ameliorating environmental conditions will be integral to Colombia’s prosperous future. The funds are part of the new Sustainable Colombia project that will be managed and supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and funded by the Colombian and Norwegian governments. (NYTimes 9/27/2016, Terra 9/26/2016)


In a wave of good news this week, Colombia also released a new sustainable construction decree that will serve as a roadmap to attain higher building standards and promote green infrastructure. The guide emphasizes efficiency in energy and water use as key components of new buildings. It will promote efficiency through the balanced use of resources in new constructions, leading to a 15 percent savings in water and energy use in the case of commercial buildings, and a 10 percent savings in the case of residential buildings during its first phase of implementation which will start on June 2016.  Experts hail Colombia’s leadership and expect the showed commitment in sustainable development will drive an increase of investments in the infrastructure sector. The decree is the result of a plan developed in partnership between the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory, the Colombian Chamber of Construction and the International Finance Corporation. (Dinero 9/26/2016)


A group of researchers led by Alf Meling Lopez, a scientist from the University of Sonora, found that mangroves in Baja California, Mexico, are at a high risk of disappearing due to the effects produced by climate change, fish farms and urban development. Lopez explained that the dire condition of the mangroves can be mostly attributed to a long-standing lack of adequate policy to monitor and manage the mangroves—unique ecosystems known for their ability to thrive despite brackish water, frequent flooding, and low oxygen conditions. Mangroves serve as a natural barrier to erosion, strong winds, tides and weather events, and act as a carbon sink. They also serve as hatcheries and nesting grounds for many migratory birds. Lopez emphasized the results of his study point to an urgent need for implementation of adequate public policies to protect and restore these unique ecosystems from further damage. (Terra 9/24/2016)

                What makes mangroves so special? Find out here.

Mexico’s Federal Attorney of Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) issued a recommendation this week directing city and state governments to comply with environmental legislation aimed at the care and protection of natural protected areas. They requested government entities to provide PROFEPA with a full catalogue of natural protected areas within their jurisdiction as defined by federal law. The purpose of the directive is to ensure all levels of government are adequately complying with environmental legislation regarding natural protected areas and promoting social responsibility and the protection of human rights. PROFEPA recognized the importance of natural protected areas in mitigating environmental challenges facing the country, particularly addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. State and local governments have 15 days to respond to the query. (El Economista 9/25/2016)

On International Coastal Cleanup Day, Chile’s youngest generation came through for the oceans by showing up in the thousands to clean-up several dozen tons of garbage in over 100 beaches across Chile. Some 6,000 school-aged children picked up plastic bags, bottles, tires, carpets, clothing, fishnets and other things washing up on shore. About 80 percent of the total garbage collected was human-produced waste. Chile has been partaking in the initiative since 2008. Minister of the Environment, Pablo Badenier, said the event is a “tremendous opportunity to clean the beaches and to transmit a message to increase our levels of environmental awareness.” (La Informacion 9/23/2016)  

Bolivia’s Ministry of Environment and Water announced a package of forest protection measures this week the agency expects will end illegal deforestation in the country by 2020. The measures include the implementation of a robust reforestation program and a monitoring network to track the active deforestation and degradation of forests. It also includes measures to strengthen federal funds to support the forest sector and management of green areas. Minister Alexandra Moreira, requested the cooperation of public and private institutions to ensure the program’s success. (Prensa Latina 9/27/2016)


The results of Mexico’s much awaited second long-term electricity auction revealed highly competitive rates. Mexico’s Secretary of Energy (SENER) said the average price of clean energy in the auction is "among the lowest prices reached at the international level". According to auction estimates, a massive US$4 billion in new projects were leveraged in this round. The average price for renewables and the adjoining clean energy certificates (CEL) came in at US$33.47/MWh. Solar PV currently accounts for 54 percent of capacity to be sold and 53 percent of CEL; with wind coming in at 43 percent of capacity and 41 percent of CELs, respectively. In total, 8.9 million MWh and 9.3 million CEL were awarded across solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectricity. So far, the clean energy acquired in the second-round is equivalent to approximately 3 percent of the annual electricity generation in Mexico. It is an important step towards the country’s goal of generating 35 percent of electricity from clean sources by 2024. (El Economista 9/27/2016)

The first biogas plant in Chile to generate electricity from the decomposition of waste was inaugurated in Valparaiso this week. The plant will use captured methane gas generated from the El Molle landfill to produce renewable energy. The energy derived from this plant will be injected directly into the network of Chilquinta and distributed along the central network or used as a backup power network. Mayor Jorge Castro said he is working to see that the benefits of this new plant are translated into lower electricity rates for consumers. (Bio Bio Chile 9/23/2016)