Covering an area the size of Belgium, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta oil and gas field comprises the second-largest known reserve of shale gas and the fourth-largest reserve of shale oil in the world. During the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, the international environmental NGO 350.org issued a warning that exploiting the field’s full reserve could unleash a veritable “carbon bomb,” accelerating already quickly rising global temperatures while putting agreements to hold to a 1.5 degree rise out of reach. Now, in the wake of the world’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drillers are accelerating fracking activities as producers rush to backfill missing energy supplies. Supported by international investment banks and their partners, new pipelines and liquid natural gas terminals are enabling Argentina’s toxic hydrocarbons to capture long-term global supply contracts. 350.org’s Latin American Managing Director, Ilan Zugman and 350.org’s Senior Latin America Campaigner M. Victoria Emanuelli along with lead blogger Michael Buchsbaum review the situation.
The major shale oil and shale gas deposit Vaca Muerta (in English also: Dead Cow) covers a 30,000 square kilometers area located in three Argentinian provinces Neuquén, Mendoza and Rio Negro. According to the US Energy Information Administration, Vaca Muerta has a total of recoverable gas resources of 308 tcf (8.7 billion m3) and a recoverable oil and condensate of 16 billion barrels (2.5 billion liters), making it the world’s second-largest shale gas and oil deposit. A project of great political-economic interest, but also counterparted by the social and environmental impact inherent to the extraction of non-conventional gas and oil by fracking. And even further than that: while the world is turning to decarbonisation, successive Argentine governments have been persisting on succeeding their fossil energy models. Maximiliano Proaño Ugalde reports
During the last months, Latin America has become the main COVID-19 focus worldwide. In early September, the region concentrated more than 27% of the COVID-19 cases globally and 31% of its deaths. High rates of inequality and poverty, failures in the health system and political instability are the main reasons for this dramatic situation. And it seems to get worse in the upcoming years: according to the UN COVID-19 will result in the worst recession in the region in a century, causing a 9.1% contraction in regional GDP in 2020. Consequently, the number of poor could increase by 45 million (to 230 million in total) and the number of extremely poor by 28 million (to 96 million in total). As political and social instability has already characterized 2019, the risk of a period of human rights violations and a lack of democracy is real. Maximiliano Proaño reports
After twenty years of negotiations, the European Union is in the process of advancing one of the world’s largest free trade agreements with four states of Mercosur. The planned agreement suggests a political path that veers towards a worsening of the international climate crisis. Kathrin Meyer discusses the questionable contents of the political act, which will solidify inequality amongst the trade partners and enable the expansion of environmentally harmful methods.
The energy transition, and especially the increased electrification of transportation sector, moves forward at great speed. Its new center is Latin America’s lithium triangle, where new batteries of electric vehicles will be sourced. But there is an inevitable conflict coming between water availability and mining, says Rebecca Bertram.
Argentina has incredible solar and wind potential. So why is the government pushing fracking in the Vaca Mauerta field isntead of decarbonizing? Maximiliano Proaño takes a look.
Throughout Latin America, tenders and auctions have been a particularly popular mechanism to push the development of renewables. But communities who could benefit from local renewable energy projects are often excluded, says Maximiliano Proaño.
Chile’s share of renewable energy has tripled in the past five years. Maximiliano Proaño takes a look at the policy behind this massive growth, and the road ahead.
Although Latin America and the Caribbean have made progress in energy savings and efficiency in the last years, the region can do more to move towards sustainability. A review of the regional measures shows improvements, and reflects the challenges ahead. Emilio Godoy takes a look.
There’s a global movement of communities and cities taking back control of their energy and water supply, and Germany’s Energiewende serves as a role model. Craig Morris takes a look at the Transnational Institute (TNI)’s report, “Reclaiming public services: how cities and citizens are turning back privatization.”