Latin America Green News This Week: 7/21 - 7/27/2016

Mexico & U.S. give hope to Vaquita Marina, Peru ratifies Paris Agreement, Chile’s economy too dependent on natural resources

To get the weekly Latin America Green News blog delivered directly to your email, subscribe here.

July 21 – July 27, 2016

Feature: Mexico-U.S. Bilateral Priorities

Last week, President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met to discuss bilateral relations on priorities important to both countries, including leading on climate and energy issues. Among the outcomes of the meeting include a firm recommitment from both countries to join the Paris Agreement this year, to adopt an ambitious and comprehensive amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will phase-down harmful hydrofluorocarbons, and to work together through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to reduce aircraft emissions.

The presidents also committed to intensify bilateral cooperation to protect the critically endangered vaquita marina porpoise through several bilateral actions, including: making permanent the two-year ban on the use of gillnet fishing which often entangle vaquitas, increase cooperation on enforcement of the ban, develop alternative fishing gear to gillnets that does not result in the entanglement of Vaquita, and implement a long-term program to remove and permanently dispose of illegal and derelict fishing gear from vaquita habitat in the upper Gulf of California. The New York Times pointed out that China must also take action, since Chinese demand for swim bladders of the Totoaba–a large endangered fish that inhabits the same waters as the vaquita—is largely causing vaquita deaths. (The White House 7/22/2016, Sin Embargo 7/26/2016, The New York Times 7/27/2016)

Climate Change

Peru had a big week both ratifying the Paris Agreement and approving a national strategy on forest management and climate change. It joins a list of nineteen other nations who have ratified the agreement since the formal signing in April. The Paris agreement will formally replace the Kyoto Protocol after fifty-five nations have submitted their ratification instrumentality to the United Nations. Separately, President Humala also announced this week the approval of the country’s national strategy on forest management and climate change sending an indication on the importance of implementing measures to protect the forests of Peru because of the role they play in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. The strategy stresses sustainable forest management, the prevention of forest degradation and reforestation efforts. (Noticias Terra 7/22/16, Inforegion 7/21/2016)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the second ever Environmental Performance Evaluation for Chile which warns that the country’s economic growth is too dependent on its natural resources – forestry and agricultural resources in particular. The document also notes that country’s greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 23 percent in decade between 2000 and 2010. The evaluation delivered a series of recommendations including improving the collection and transparency of environmental data, applying a tax on local emissions, and formulating air pollution management plans. Simon Upton, OECD’s Environment Director, said “Chile is an economic power in Latin America, and the question of the next 25 years is whether it can maintain that growth while protecting its base of environmental assets.” (El Ciudadano 7/21/2016)



Scientists believe “red tide” to be the most likely cause of death for 70 whales that have been found on the southern Chilean coast. Just last year in what was considered the “biggest single event of its kind known to science” 330 whales were found dead in Patagonia. National fisheries director Jose Miguel Burgos concluded that the whales are a different species from the ones found last year, “they are smaller than those we saw last time.” While the causes aren’t conclusive, scientists are studying the whales to determine whether the “red tide,” a harmful algal bloom, is the cause of death for these animals. (El Commercio 7/20/2016)




Deforestation in the surrounding region of the Pico de Orizaba National Park is putting the water source in Veracruz, Mexico at risk. One of the regions, called La Perla, has allegedly registered deforestation rates  of 100 percent, partly caused by illegal logging. The coordinator of a local initiative called “Save the Pico de Orizaba,” Rodríguez Demeneghi, says that loggers do not realize the effects their actions have on the flora and fauna and the inhabitants who depend on the water. While their actions puts the rest of the public at risk, Demeneghi adds that illegal logging is a way of earning a living for people who may not have other options. He added that if actions are not taken now, then damages to the region will irreversible. (Al Calor Politico 7/22/2016)




Representatives from the activist group Achibueno Defense (Defensa Achibueno in spanish) arrived in Santiago, Chile this week to deliver over thirty thousand petitions to President Bachelet requesting a halt to the construction of two hydropower plants in the Achibueno River. For years the group has been fighting the construction of the plants by Sentinel saying the company has not fully taken into consideration the impacts the plants would have on the flora and inhabitants of the area in the nearby city of Maule. Although the first stage of construction has been approved, the group asserts it is still possible for President Bachelet to put a stop to the project, especially in consideration of her statements in 2013 that the Achibueno River would be a nature sanctuary. (El Ciudadano 7/22/2016)


The Argentinean energy company Energe is developing solar water heaters to install in Mendoza, with the hopes of expanding to the rest of the country. From Puna to Tierra del Fuego, it is estimated that these solar water heaters could save the country up to 90% of the current energy used to heat water. One Energe water heater can heat up to 180 liters of water, which is enough to fulfill the needs of a family of four. In addition to support from the Ministry of Science and several universities, Energe received USD $119,900 from the Argentine Technological Fund (FONTAR) in 2015. Energe’s plans are in line with the national goal to source 20 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025. (MDZol 7/26/2016)


Costa Rica’s government has reported that renewables comprised 96.36% of energy production during the first half of the year. According to preliminary data from the National Energy Control Centre of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), clean sources of electricity generation beat out the production of energy from hydrocarbons. Geothermal (13.38%), wind (12.2%), biomass (1.4%), and solar (0.02%) made up the region’s non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) while the rest of the country’s renewables (69.35%) consisted of hydroelectric energy. The country produced 5,242.6 GW of energy in the first half of this year, of which 3.64% came from hydrocarbons. (America Economia 7/25/2016)


This week's blog was completed with the help of contributions from Andrea Becerra.


For more news on the issues we care about visit our Latin America Green News archive or read our other International blogs