Latin America Green News: 100% renewables in Chile would save lives; climate change costly for agriculture in Colombia and Mexico

Posted September 1, 2015

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

Latin America Green News will be taking a break and resume after the Labor Day Holiday. August 22nd – September 1, 2015 Climate Change

A strong climate action plan that puts Chile on a trajectory toward 100% renewables by 2050 would save the country billions of dollars, create jobs and reduce pollution-related deaths, according to a new study launched by the Citizen’s Committee on Climate Change, a coalition of Chilean environmental groups. The new study, prepared by the NewClimate Institute, found that switching to 100% renewable energy would help Chile avoid spending $5.3 billion a year on fossil fuels, create 11,000 green jobs and prevent 1,500 premature deaths from outdoor air pollution in Santiago. Chile released a draft climate action plan, or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), for public comment late last year, but according to the Citizen’s Committee on Climate Change the proposal does not go far enough. The Committee is urging the government to increase the ambition of its climate action plan to achieve the needed transition toward cleaner and low impact energy sources. (Futaleufú Riverkeeper 09/1/2015)

At a roundtable on financial innovation models held this week by Colombia’s Department of National Planning (DNP), Director Simón Gaviria Muñoz, discussed results of a study conducted by DNP, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and advised the country is in danger of losing 0.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually through 2100 unless it implements actions to mitigate the effects of climate change. The loss would cost the country approximately USD $1.2 billion annually and wreak havoc on several sectors of the economy as well as the poorest 20 percent of the population. Financially, the agricultural sector will be hit hardest with an estimated 7.4 percent decrease in productivity annually. Transportation, fishing and livestock also follow closely behind with similar negative productivity rates. (Departamento Nacional de Planeacion 8/28/2015)

Rising temperatures caused by climate change and increased industrialization of rural areas in Mexico have forced the country to have to import 80 percent of its legumes. Agricultural areas are becoming unsuitable for production and some are being encroached by growing urban areas leaving only three million of the twenty five million available hectares for legume production. Experts from the International Research Network on Sociourban, Regional and Environmental Problems warn that federal, state and local governments are not doing enough to contain urban sprawl and protect the agricultural sector from the effects of climate change putting in danger food supplies for communities. (El Occidental 8/26/2016)

A new giant has risen in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Brazil seeking to study the effects of climate change in a region that has been dubbed “the earth’s lungs.” The USD $7.4 million, 325 meter-tall orange and white tower, referred to by some as the “Eiffel Tower” of the Amazon, is the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) and it has the unique mission of saving the world. Scientists hope that by closely studying this incredible region which produces half of the world’s oxygen and stabilizes the planet’s climate through carbon capture, they can solve a key piece of the global warming puzzle. Though it won’t start collecting data until later in the year, its strategic location far from civilization is expected to produce relatively pure data. (La Nacion 8/23/2015)


Peru and Chile are joining forces against the trafficking of flora and fauna between the two countries. This new collaboration stems from meetings prompted by commitments made during the third meeting of the Committee on Frontier Integration and Development between Peru and Chile last year. Representatives from both countries discussed areas of potential collaboration to protect trafficked wildlife on the border, particularly as they relate to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). (Andina 8/24/2015)


A new monitoring study by the World Wildlife Fund Mexico (WWF) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) revealed that illegal logging degraded 19.9 hectares in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, the highest figure since 2009. According to the study, 96 percent of the illegal logging occurred in the community of San Felipe de los Alzati, one of the 33 communities located within the reserve. Omar Vidal, director of WWF in Mexico, urged the government to work with the community to address the illegal activity and noted the need to increase strategic investments to improve conservation in the area. (Milenio 08/26/2015)

Data from Colombia’s Department of National Planning (DNP) raised concerns over the increase in illegal mining in the country, one of the biggest contributors to the country’s deforestation rate. The practice of illegal mining in the country has become so lucrative that it rakes in profits 3.5 times higher than drug trafficking. The federal government has committed to reducing deforestation form illegal mining from 120 thousand hectares a year to 90 thousand hectares by 2018, a plan which they revealed in their National Development Plan 2014-2018. The Ministry of the Environment has also pledged to crack down on the illicit activity by joining forces with prosecutors and police. (Caracol 08/25/2015)

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