Latin America Green News 10/30 – 11/05/2017

THIS WEEK

  • HidroAysén dam project rejection upheld
  • Latin America projects awarded at COP23​
  • Argentina considers geothermal development

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FEATURE: Final death knell for HidroAysén dam project as rejection upheld

The final death knell tolled last week for HidroAysén, the controversial massive hydroelectric project proposed for Chilean Patagonia. The five mega-dam-proposal received its environmental permit in 2011, but the Committee of Ministers, the highest administrative authority in Chile, revoked the permit in 2014. HidroAysén appealed to the judicial system, and the Environmental Court just ruled to uphold the Committee of Ministers’ decision. Subsequently, executives at HidroAysén’s two parent companies, Colbún and Endesa Chile, have announced their plans to liquidate the project. They are also looking to return the water rights on the two rivers where HidroAysén was planned, the Baker and Pascua Rivers, to the Chilean government. This announcement is a critical victory for Chilean environmental organizations and community groups who have worked for a decade to protect Patagonia from HidroAysén. (La Tercera 10/31/2017, La Tercera 11/5/207)

Want to learn more about why preserving Chile’s rivers from the threat of hydroelectric projects is so important? Check out our interactive map.


CLIMATE CHANGE

Nineteen projects, including three from Latin America, will receive the United Nations ‘Momentum for Change’ Climate Solutions Award during the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference, or COP23, starting this week in Bonn. This award recognizes the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments, and industries are doing to tackle climate change. From Ecuador, the winner is the project Sustainable Agriculture with Gender Inclusion and Participation in Quito. Meanwhile, Colombia and Honduras will be jointly awarded for a project that uses Information and Communications Technology tools and applications to help farmers in both countries make climate-smart decisions. (DW, 11/01/2017, UNFCCC website)

Latin America and the Caribbean is a promising and diverse region to invest in projects that mitigate climate change. A report published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) showed that the transportation and infrastructure sectors will generate more than US$1 billion in investment by 2030 in the region. According to the report, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru are already leading on renewable energy, green urban infrastructure, low-carbon transport, energy efficiency and smart cities. Political reforms and innovative business models will be key factors in helping countries in the region catalyze private investment and achieve their Paris Agreement goals. The way in which cities in Latin America grow will also have a major impact in the region’s contributions to fight climate change, given that 80 percent of people in Latin America live in cities. Green building codes, bus rapid transit systems, energy storage solutions and other low carbon technologies represent significant low-carbon investment opportunities. The table below shows the potential for investment in several countries through 2030. As the region mobilizes increasing amounts of private capital, the greening of capital markets will also continue. (AméricaEconomía 11/02/207)


CLEAN ENERGY

The most recent energy auction in Chile allocated 2,200 GWh and set new record low prices. The auction saw an average price of US$32.5/MWh, a 32 percent drop from the average set during last year’s auction and the lowest in Chile since auctions were first held in 2006. Meanwhile Energía Renovable Verano Tres was awarded a contract to supply wind and solar power at US$25.40, representing the lowest ever power price in Latin America. A total of 24 bids were received with five companies ultimately securing supply blocks representing a mix of renewable energies. The selected projects will supply customers in Chile’s central and northen energy grids from 2024 to 2043. (La Tercera 11/02/2017)

Meanwhile, neighboring Argentina is gearing up to hold an auction to advance geothermal energy development in the Patagonia region. The Ministry of Energy and Mining is expected to announce the auction of the Copahue geothermal project in Neuquén province, representing capacity of 10 to 30 MW, in February or March of next year. The provincial and national governments agreed to open an international public auction process to develop the site. While proven capacity in Copahue is 30 MW, the initial auction will likely be for a 10 MW block given existing interconnection infrastructure. (Energía Estratégica 10/31/2017)


GREEN FINANCE

The European Investment Bank lent US$100 million to Mexico’s development bank NAFIN for climate-related projects. The funds will be on-lent by NAFIN to private sector wind energy projects, including 200 MW in Coahuila and 130 MW in Zacatecas. The General Director of NAFIN, Jacques Rogozinski, noted the new line of credit strengthens NAFIN’s green strategy and will allow the institution to help advance Mexico’s climate change goals. (La Jornada 11/02/2017)


TRANSPORTATION

According to a report on energy consumption and distribution in Chileconventional cars spend on average between 2.5 and 3.5 times more energy than electric cars. The report indicated that in Chile annual energy consumption from using fossil fuels for transportation is 38,736 GWh higher than it would be using electricity. If Chile’s 5 million vehicles were replaced with electric vehicles over the next 20 years, electricity demand would increase by only one percent over annual organic growth. The impact on the electricity grid would be limited since companies would be able to plan ahead to meet the increased demand. According to the report, it will be necessary to develop residential and public charging infrastructure, expand associated service markets, design norms and regulations, and anticipate the market potentially growing faster than current predictions. (Electricidad 10/30/2017)

The province of Santa Fe is “one step” from having Argentina’s first electric vehicle law. The project, promoted by the provincial deputy Joaquín Blanco, obtained approval in the Lower House and now needs Senate approval. The initiative proposes the creation of a Provincial Plan to establish economic incentives and financing for producers in the automotive sector, as well as environmentally conscious citizen consumers. The project will address not only electric vehicles, but also hybrids, by providing tax incentives and stability for 10 years, extendable for another decade. (Energía Estratégica 10/30/2017)


DEFORESTATION

According to environmentalist lawyer Ezequiel Santagada of the Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental (IDEA), a new law, Decree 7.702 in Paraguay threatens drastic deforestation. He expressed concern that Paraguay’s forest laws were based on outdated Brazilian and Argentine legislation, based on already repealed norms that predate modern environmental law. The Vice Ministry of Livestock estimates that 4 million hectares of native forests will be lost within the current legal framework in the next ten years, to produce approximately 4 million heads of cattle. Officials claim the forest loss will be mitigated by reforestation with other species, but experts highlight the concern that it will be too late for restoration if only 40% of native tree species remain. (RDN 10/31/2017)

The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, delivered some 26 orders to invest US$23.5 million for reforestation projects, community agroforestry development and adaptation to climate change, as part of a new forest incentive program. The funding comes from the UNFCCC Climate Change Adaptation Fund, the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, the World Bank, and Panama’s national budget. At a meeting announcing the plan, Varela stated that his administration would increase budgets for park rangers to protect forests and launch a tourism plan for Coiba Island in the Pacific, as well as supporting environmental institutions. In an effort to be free of deforestation by 2025, the government will disburse around US $15 million for reforestation, recovery of natural forests, and recovery of 52 hydrographic basins in the country. (TVN 10/30/2017)

Bolivia’s deforestation rate is at its highest in sixteen years, having lost 470,601 hectares of forests, an increase of 183 percent, in the past year, according to World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch (GFW). Between 2001 and 2016 Bolivia had a loss of 4,067,419 hectares of accumulated forest mass, and between 2001 and 2012, the gain in forest cover was just 173,608 hectares. As we reported last week, this contributes to the worldwide record level of 29.7 million hectares, equivalent to the area of New Zealand, lost in 2016. (FM Bolivia)

About the Authors

Carolina Herrera

Manager, Green Finance & Climate Change, Latin America Project

Amanda Maxwell

Director, Latin America Project

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