Latin America Green News 06/11- 06/15

Special Feature: Costa Rica President Visits DC        

Recently elected President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, visited Washington D.C. this week. During his visit, he spoke at the Inter-American Dialogue about Costa Rica’s main challenges, its future and its role in the region. Alvarado highlighted Costa Rica’s advances as a “leader against climate change,” most notably the government’s determination to become one of the first countries to reach carbon neutrality. Additionally, he talked about submitting an ordinance to ban single use plastic to change public sector consumption patterns and vowed to reduce carbon emissions in transportation. Furthermore, Alvarado stated his commitment to prohibit the exploration of oil in Costa Rica and to focus on renewable energy.

The webcast can be watched here

President Carlos Alvarado at the Inter-American Dialogue

Photo via Inter-American Dialogue Twitter

Climate Change

Land degradation is both a significant driver and a result of climate change. When soils erode, a valuable opportunity is lost to store carbon from the atmosphere. Moreover, desertification threatens food security around the world, with significant implications for Latin America. The UN has warned that by the year 2050, the global economy could lose US$ 23 billion due to the loss of forests and pastures. In Argentina, for example, desertification damages 650,000 hectares every year. According to Argentine ecologists Donaldo Bran, Juan José Gaitán and Cristian Azcona, “land degradation is one of Argentina’s greatest environmental problems.” On June 17, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD) will be observed to promote public awareness of global efforts to combat desertification. Under the slogan ‘Land has true value. Invest in it’, the WDCD 2018 will focus on sustainable land management as a way to regenerate economies, create jobs and revitalize communities. This year Ecuador, where 47 percent of soils are in the process of degradation, will host the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Experts will gather at the event to try to identify solutions to this challenge of global importance.   (La Nación 1/20/2018, Infobae 5/19/2018, 6/8/2018)

To learn more about why it’s important to invest in sustainable land management in Latin America read NRDC’s blog on World Day to Combat Desertification

As  Mexico gears up for its presidential election on July 1, the candidates have  presented their climate change and sustainable development proposals.  Earlier this month, front-runner, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, presented his environmental policy covering six areas including climate change. This and the environmental proposals of the rest of the candidates have been evaluated by the Climate Finance Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (GFLAC), which promotes the " Latin America VOTES sustainably” initiative. Published this week, GFLAC’s second report points out that three of the four candidates include renewable energies in their agendas and presents the list of specific measures they plan to put in place. The report also provides a set of guiding principles for the next administration. Meanwhile, Greenpeace celebrated that during the third and final presidential debates the candidates all pronounced their support of renewable energy, however the NGO stressed that the candidates’ proposals lacked a clear focus on how to achieve sustainable development while also promoting conservation of natural resources and sustainable livelihoods. (Animal Politico 06/05/2018; PV Magazine 06/12/2018; La Jornada 06/14/2018)

Energy 

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos launched a new transmission line  project in La Guajira that will enable the region to export 1,360 megawatts of wind energy. The 370-kilometer transmission line is slated to start operation in November 2022. The line will connect Guajira to the national grid, enabling the interconnection of some of first large-scale non-conventional renewable energy projects.  (Noticias RCN 6/12/2018)

In Argentina, Coca-Cola FEMSA will become the first company to use 100 percent renewable energy, starting in August and through the next 15 years. Two of the bottling company’s plants in Buenos Aires will be powered by wind energy in partnership with the national YPF Luz. With this initiative, Coca-Cola FEMSA will exceed the legal requirement to achieve 20 percent clean energy by 2025, established by Law No. 27, 191. The energy will come from new wind farms that YPF Luz is building: Manantiales Behr in the province of Chubut, Los Teros in Buenos Aires and Cañadón León in Santa Cruz which, once completed, will provide 240 MW of renewable energy to industrial consumers. (El Carobobeño 6/13/2018)

Transportation 

Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles in Mexico have increased this year. From January to March, almost 4000 electric and hybrids were sold in the Mexican market, showing that automotive brands are still committed to electric mobility. The Mexican Automotive Industry Association reported that these vehicles increased by almost 15 percent in March of this year, compared to the same month last year. The city with highest electric vehicles penetration was Mexico City with 34.6 percent.  (El Universal 06/13/2018)

In Chile new safety regulations for electric vehicles are in their final phase. The Office for the Comptroller requested formal modifications to the safety standard of electric vehicles, including technical, constructive and safety requirements. The sale of electric vehicles has grown rapidly in recent years in Chile, mainly due to the high population density in the metropolitan region. However, lack of infrastructure, mainly charging stations, has been a challenge for those wanting to buy electric vehicles. In the next five years, the government plans to install 200 additional charging stations in the main urban centers and highways of the country. (Diario Final 06/12/2018)

Green Finance 

Global Bank in Panama has received a US$30 million long-term credit line for green loans as part of a new alliance with the Global Climate Partnership Fund(GCPF). The GCPF is focused on financing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for households and small- and medium-enterprises (SME) in developing countries by cooperating with local financial institutions. Under the new alliance Global Bank will develop green loans for corporate green building as well as invest in small to medium renewables energy projects and energy efficiency improvements in the agricultural and industrial sectors. With technical assistance from GCPF the bank is already working with consultants to gain experience identifying technically sound energy projects, evaluating them and verifying their eligibility. The technical assistance is also supporting outreach to potential clients to help create a portfolio of green projects. (Panama On 06/14/2018)

In Colombia the National Planning Department’s  two and half year long “Green Mission” came to a close with the unveiling of a roadmap of  public policies to help direct the country’s green growth  through 2030. One of the key targets identified through 2030 is the goal of reaching 600,000 electric vehicles or 25% of the national vehicle fleet. Hernando José Gómez who headed the mission has noted that to meet green growth targets such as these the financial sector will need to play a key role by offering specialized financial instruments.(DNP Website 04/14/2018; El Espectador 06/12/2018)

Forests 

In Mexico two studies on forests were published recently. Looking at restoration efforts, researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Mexican Universities conducted the first comprehensive analysis of ecological restoration initiatives. The study examines 75 restoration programs covering 1.5 million hectares (3.7 acres) countrywide. It showed that restoration has gained momentum as most of the programs (92%) have been stablished in the past 15 years and half of them are still active. Overall results highlight the main drivers of degradation and areas that require special attention, confirming the importance of restoration action in light of the deterioration and fragmentation of ecosystems. The complete study is available here (Forests News 06/12/2018). Initatives like these not only benefit the environment, they also benefit communities that depend on it. This was the focus of another study which examined the Payment for Environmental Services program in Mexico. This study shows that paying communities to conserve and manage their forests strengthens social relationships and sense of community. The results demonstrate that participation in the program favors involvement in assemblies, conflict-resolution ability, trust between members, and community-building efforts (Phys Org. 06/12/2018).  

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