Around the Region

Chaves wins runoff for Costa Rican presidency

Former World Bank economist Rodrigo Chaves won Costa Rica’s presidential runoff election on April 3, defeating longtime sustainable-development advocate José María Figueres. Chaves won with 53% of the vote to 47% for Figueres, who served as president of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. Chaves will take office on May 8, giving his Social Democratic Progress Party (PPSD) its first electoral win at any level in Costa Rica. He has said he would seek to strike a balance between conservation and extraction, but his election could mark a shift away from the environmentally friendly policymaking that Costa Rica has grown accustomed to, analysts say. “One of the problems to keep an eye on are the consequences of the pandemic, because some of his ideas about reactivating the economy put pressure on nature,” says Mauricio Álvarez, a professor of geography at the University of Costa Rica. “There is talk of...

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South America plays role in greenhouse-gas surge

If something is being done to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it doesn’t seem to be having much effect. “Our data show that global emissions [of methane and carbon dioxide] continue moving in the wrong direction at a rapid rate,” Rick Spinrad, administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) said this month. The occasion was the announcement on April 7 of the largest world increase in methane emissions in 40 years and of the 10th consecutive year of increased carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. The dire picture presented by NOAA was reinforced by data from other sources such as the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring System (CAMS). Said Spinrad: “The evidence is consistent, alarming and undeniable.” Countries around the world contributed to rising emissions, and Latin American nations were no exception. Enormous summer increases were reported in several South American countries on account of an unusually intense fire season...

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Initial 12 parties to Escazú treaty hold first conference

Meeting to implement the first-ever regional environmental treaty for Latin America and the Caribbean, the 12 countries that have ratified the so-called Escazú Agreement decided this month to draft an action plan for protection of environmental advocates. The Escazú treaty took effect on April 22 of last year after Argentina and Mexico became the 11th and 12th signatories to ratify it, pushing the accord past the 11-nation threshold needed for implementation. Named for the Costa Rican town where it was adopted in 2018, the treaty aims to improve public access to environmental information and decision-making as a means of ensuring wider consensus on development projects. Protecting environmental defenders is another focus of the accord, formally called the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. In their first Conference of the Parties (COP), the 12...

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