Latin America Green News: solar up in Chile, fracking allowed in Colombia, deforestation in Brazil pollutes neighbors

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

September 1st  – 5th, 2014

 Energy

In Chile, the total contribution of non-conventional renewable energy increased by 27% between January and July of 2014 for small-hydro, wind, biomass, and solar energy, according to a study by the Center for Economic Load Dispatch. Of these sources, solar energy showed the greatest expansion with a 469 percent increase. If such growth continues steadily, the Chilean government’s goal of sourcing 45% of new energy installations in the country from non-conventional renewable sources by 2025 will be attainable. Meanwhile, SunEdison announced a sale agreement with Antofagasta Minerals, which would allow the first supply of energy by the Javiera solar plant located in Chile’s Atacama region. The plant is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2015. The contract will last 20 years and the plant will have a capacity of 69.5 MW and eventually supply approximately 12% of the energy needs of Los Pelambres mine. (Estrategia & Negocios 9/1/2014; Diario Financiero, 9/03/14)

The Colombian government has approved the use of fracking techniques to increase natural gas supplies in the country. Colombian Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Orlando Cabrales, confirmed this week that after a “rigorous” two-year process, a “responsible” regulatory framework has been established that includes provisions on protection of aquifers, seismic activity, and gas emissions. Interested companies will begin applying for environmental licenses soon and are expected to begin fracking activities sometime next year. (América Economía 9/1/2014)

Climate Change

Speaking at the Latin American and Caribbean Climate Forum in Bogotá this week, Colombia’s Environment Minister called on the region’s governments to give “greater priority in national agendas  to the issue of climate change and to join efforts so that the region is consolidated as a leader with greater ambition.” The minister noted that in Colombia there are various action plans under development that aim to achieve low carbon development , including in the mining, electricity, hydrocarbon , solid waste and waste water sectors. (Vanguardia 9/3/2014)

During his Second Report on the government, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto affirmed his administration’s commitment to the environment, including mitigating climate change.  Peña Nieto pointed to initiatives that provide payments for environmental services to 4,200 people, a program to reforest one million hectares, and six new regional facilities to combat forest fires.  (Notimex 9/02/14)

Deforestation

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon contributes “notably” to pollution in the neighboring countries of Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay. A study by scientists at Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE) found that smoke from fires linked to forest clearing results in higher atmospheric pollution. Over 5,000 fires can be detected per day in South America and the majority occur in Brazil. However, the burning of biomass and the impact of smoke from the Amazon is a trans-border issue that will need to be addressed through joint efforts across countries in the region. (Ecoticias 9/2/2014)

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

About the Authors

Carolina Herrera

Latin America Advocate, International program

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