- Peruvian farmer fights global warming in German court
- Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay leading on renewables
- Step forward for electric vehicles in Costa Rica
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FEATURE: Peruvian farmer fights global warming in German court
A German court has ruled that it will hear a Peruvian farmer’s case against the German power company RWE over damage to his home in the Andes resulting from climate change. Saul Luciano Lliuya, a farmer from Huaraz, Peru, argues that RWE must share the cost of protecting his town from a lake at risk of overflowing due to glacial melt. According to Lliuya, since carbon dioxide from RWE’s power plants contributed to global warming, the company should share the burden of protecting property in the Andes now at risk from flooding or landslides. According to the lawsuit, it is estimated that RWE is responsible for 0.47% of greenhouse gas emissions. Lliuya is demanding RWE pay 17,000 euros to assume the cost of flood defenses. The court said in a statement that experts will gather evidence on whether emissions from RWE power plants can be connected to global warming and consequently the melting of the glacier in Peru. The impacts of rapidly melting glaciers in Peru are also being felt in the country’s desert regions. Decades ago, the Peruvian government invested US$ 825 million in canal and irrigation projects to make the dry northern coast a productive agricultural area using meltwater from the Cordillera Blanca. The resulting success brought electricity, jobs and income for many communities. But that icecap is retreating; it has lost 40 percent of its size since 1970 and is currently receding about 30 feet annually. When the glaciers disappear, so too may the livelihoods they bring to arid regions. (America Economia 11/30/2017, The Guardian 11/30/2017, New York Times 11/26/2017)
Chile, home to 79 percent of South America’s glaciers, saw its own dramatic illustration of global warming when a huge iceberg broke off the Grey Glacier in Patagonia’s renowned Torres del Paine National Park. Local scientists noted the unusual size of the iceberg, which covers roughly 25 acres and more than 16 professional soccer (football) fields, and believe that it could present hazards to tourism boats if it breaks apart. The regional office of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) is monitoring the glacier and the iceberg in collaboration with the Chilean Antarctic Institute. (BBC Mundo 11/30/2017, Univision 11/28/2017, La Nación 11/30/2017)
Peru’s Commission of Andean, Amazonian, Afro-Peruvian, Environmental and Ecological Peoples (CPAAAAE) handed down its final ruling on the proposed Framework Law on Climate Change. The proposed law must still go through debate by the full Congress and only two sessions remain for it to be considered this year. If approved, the bill would allow different levels of government to address climate change and climate change impacts. The CPAAAAE’s opinion recognized the binding character of Peru’s policies to reduce emissions, notably the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) that Peru pledged in the Paris climate agreement. The opinion also called on the government to balance emission mitigation policies with climate adaptation policies. Finally, the CPAAAAE noted the importance of including public participation into the processes that will develop the tools to fight climate change. (Inforegión 11/30/2017)
Governor Juan Manzur of Argentina’s Tucumán province, met with California governor Jerry Brown during a trip to the U.S., during which the two agreed to work together on climate change. Manzur signed on to Brown’s initiative to get sub-national governments to commit to climate action, and said that as president of Zicosur (Integrated Zone of Central West South America), he would encourage his regional counterparts to do the same. “There is much to be done regarding global warming, an issue that must be addressed by all countries in distinctive contexts and that poses challenges not only for governments but also for companies and institutions in general,” Manzur commented. (Tucumán Noticias 11/30/2017)
Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay were ranked in the top ten by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Climatescope 2017. The yearly assessment reviews the renewable energy investment climate in 71 developing countries. The report found that the falling price of photovoltaic (PV) prices has contributed to the rapid deployment of solar in emerging markets. In Latin America, Brazil, Mexico and Chile saw their installed PV capacity double from 2015 to 2016. See all results for Latin America here. (PV Magazine 11/28/2017)
In its efforts to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, Argentina, adjudicated 66 projects under round two of its RenovAr renewable energy auction. The projects were awarded to several companies that will produce more than 1,400 megawatts from wind, solar, biomass and biogas sources. The Energy Ministry plans to award additional projects to generate 600 more megawatts. According to the Argentinian Energy Minister, the generation of 2,000 megawatts could translate into investments of up to US$ 3 billion. (América Economía 11/29/2017).
The Italian company Enel inaugurated Latin America’s largest solar park in the state of Piauí, Brazil. The plant has 930,000 solar panels that extend over an area of 690 hectares (1,705 acres) and will provide electricity to 300,000 families. The project was the result of an investment of US$ 300 million. Enel has another project underway in Mexico, which when completed will be even larger and represent an investment of US$ 650 million. The project in Mexico will have the potential to supply electricity to 1.3 million families. (El Economista 11/28/2017; PV Tech 03/12/2017).
The Spanish foundation Acciona Microenergía and Peru’s Scientific, Technological and Innovation Fund (Fondecyt) launched a new program to provide electricity to isolated rural communities in the Peruvian Amazon. The initiative will use residential photovoltaic systems to provide basic electricity service to 1,000 households without disrupting the surrounding ecosystem. The pilot project will help demonstrate the replicability and economic feasibility of this model. Under the program, residents pay a small fee for the equipment equivalent to 50 percent less that what they previously paid for batteries, candles, and oil lamps. Acciona Microenergía will also train users so they can fix and maintain the equipment themselves. (Energías Renovables 11/26/2017)
A bill to lower taxes on electric vehicles (EV) successfully passed the first vote by the Costa Rican General Assembly. A second vote to make it official is expected shortly. As Costa Rica works towards becoming a carbon neutral country by 2022, it aims to add 37,000 EVs over the next five years. The law would exempt EVs from a range of fees, including parking meter costs and driving permits and would lower import taxes and vehicle transfer fees for the next five years. Recharge centers will be built every 80 kilometers on national roads and every 120 kilometers on provincial roads. The law also places obligations on the Ministry of Transportation to support the initiative and the National Apprenticeship Institute to train future mechanics for electric vehicles. (La Nación, 29/11/2017)
Costa Rica has also begun testing its first hydrogen bus 'Nyuti', which means star in the Chorotega indigenous language, as the country moves towards achieving the goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The first routes will be introduced in the province of Guanacaste in June, making it the first vehicle of its kind in Central America. (La Nación, 11/28/2017)
Argentina's Minister of Transport, Guillermo Dietrich, spoke in Washington DC this week about the progress of the country's National Transport Plan. During the hour and a half-long talk, Minister Dietrich highlighted the plan's five strategic priorities: improving infrastructure, efficiently and sustainably prioritizing different modes of transport; improving safety in the sector; strengthening employment; and reducing corruption while improving transparency in the sector. The plan spans 2016-2019, and focuses on roads, railroads, air transport, ports and waterways, and urban mobility. A discussant from the InterAmerican Development Bank noted that one major challenge facing the US$33 billion plan is how to finance the wide-ranging improvements while reducing subsidies. (Woodrow Wilson Center 11/22/2017)
Costa Rica and Ecuador signed the Coral Reef Life declaration, an international pronouncement in favor of the conservation of coral reefs launched in June 2017 by Prince Albert II of Monaco. With this agreement, both countries will try to comply with Goal 14 –to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources– of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Costa Rica and Ecuador will join other 12 signatory countries, including Mexico, in projects to restore and protect their coral reefs (El País 11/28/2017).
Andrés Anchondo and Erika Moyer contributed to this post