Latin America Green News: August 24 - 31, 2016

Farmer in Colombia's Cauca Department
Credit: CIAT

Coffee production will decrease 50 percent by 2050, Mexico launches cap-and-trade pilot, Chile’s hake population collapses

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August 24 – 31, 2016

Climate Change

To the dismay of coffee drinkers everywhere, scientist from the Climate Institute of Australia predict that by 2050 all land suitable for coffee production, will be cut in half due to rising global temperatures and extreme weather patterns. The changing climate will also increase the incidence of disease and pests which affect crop growth and viability. These two factors combined, they warn, will threatened the livelihood of the 210 million people around the world who produce coffee, especially in countries with developing economies, and skyrocket its price. Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua’s coffee crops have already started declining due to severe rainfall fluctuations and a fungus known as “coffee rust.” Most troubling of all, Climate Institute Director, John Connor, said if a real effort to combat the situation is not made, coffee could be extinct by 2080. In response to the crisis, farmers are now beginning to swap coffee trees for cocoa trees as they are more viable in warmer, drier weather. (Diario Hoy 8/29/2016, Planet Ark 8/25/2016)


Worried about your cup of joe? Read more about the perils facing coffee plantations and why farmers are now turning to cocoa beans instead.


Mexican officials announced the launch of a year-long simulation of a cap-and-trade program that seeks to put hard limits on companies’ greenhouse gas emissions in preparation for a national carbon market expected to launch in 2018.  The program will formally begin in November and include the voluntary participation of up to 60 companies in emissions certificate trading. Rodolfo Lacy, Mexico’s deputy minister for environmental policy and planning, said "When we have mechanisms that facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gases, we're implicitly reducing pollution." The program is congruent to the country’s overall commitment to halt climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions by 22 percent by 2030 and generating 50 percent of energy from clean sources by 2025. (Reuters 8/15/2019)


A national survey conducted by Kantar Worldpanel indicates that climate change is the chief concern of Colombians, followed by inflation and violence. The results were part of a survey conducted in over 10,000 households across Latin America. Most remarkable is that Colombians seem to worry more about a global crisis than they do of economic trends and the political climate within their own country. Earlier this year, the country was slammed by the El Niño phenomenon that led to energy rationing. Jaime Garcia, commercial director for Kantar, explained that feeling the impacts of climate change first hand through the El Niño weather phenomenon could explain why climate change has become the primary concern for Colombian citizens. (Dinero 8/26/2016)



In a win for environmentalists and local communities along five of Chile’s rivers, the country’s largest energy company, Endesa Chile, announced Tuesday that it was giving up the water rights for five hydroelectric projects: the Bardón proposal on the Cautín River; the Chillán, Futaleufú, and Puelo projects, all of rivers of the same names; and the Huechún project in the Metropolitan Region. The General Manager of the company, Valter Moro, explained that, after economic, technical and social analyses, the projects were not profitable and so they are returning the water rights to the country “so that they can be used for another type of development.” The installed capacity for all five hydro projects would have totaled 2,151 MW. Endesa Chile had invested $52 million in these projects, which it is writing off as a loss. (Pulso 8/30/2016, Reuters 8/30/2016)

Hake, known is Chile as, Merluza
Credit: Francisco Javier Angel

In response to the collapse of hake populations in Chile, WWF Chile launched a proposal to prevent the complete demise of the species in Chilean waters. Better known in Chile as merluza, the hake industry sustains approximately ten thousand fishermen who are now struggling to find hake in the wild. WWF proposed five measures to aid the recovery of the species with the intent being that the Undersecretariat of Fisheries will incorporate the measures into practice. The proposed measures include: establishing a minimum catch size of 37 cm, reducing fishing quotas, banning fishing during the specie’s reproductive period, and strengthening penalties for illegal fishing. Hake is not the only species facing a dire future; currently, 72 percent of Chilean fisheries are depleted or overexploited. (El Dinamo 8/24/2016)


While it’s fisheries suffer a population crisis, Chile announced the opening of what will be the largest marine conservation park in the Americas. The Nazca-Desventuradas park will include a 300,000 sq km area where no extractive activities may be conducted. It will triple the total size of protected marine areas in the country. A proposal for this park came after a team of scientists from National Geographic and Oceana visited the island in 2013 and discovered a unique ecosystem with no signs of human impact and a high number of endemic species. According to Oceana, Nazca-Desventuradas will gather the greatest number of unique marine species in the world. (Clarin 8/28/2016)


In protest to dwindling mining concessions, increasingly stringent environmental rules, and the recent killing of miners protesting in the streets of Bolivia by police, miners in Bolivia kidnapped and subsequently murdered Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes late last week. Illanes was on his way to meet with protesters when his vehicle was intercepted by miners. While the body has not been recovered, authorities assert that those responsible for the killing have been identified and will be prosecuted. When he took office in 2006, President Evo Morales nationalized the country’s resources sector, initially receiving support from miners and unions. In recent years however, he has been accused of authoritarianism and miners have since begun demanding more mining concessions and less environmental rules, as well as the right to work for private companies and gain union representation. (Infobae 8/25/2016, Aljazeera 8/26/2016)