Feature: Earth Day 2012, L. America's Green Economy initiatives   2012-04-22 13:02:15            

MEXICO CITY, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Environmental awareness in Latin America may not move the earth as this year's Earth Day motto "Let's move the Earth" urges, but it is moving in the right direction.

As Earth Day rolls around on Sunday this year, governments and communities in Latin America are taking action to counteract environmental degradation.

Mexico's Senate unanimously passed a bill recently to curb carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, and to set up a coordinating National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change to help make it.

Mexico is also making way for what is touted to be the world's largest solar farm in the sunny state of Baja California. The 450-megawatt facility is expected to become operational by the end of 2013.

As one of the world's most biodiverse region, Latin America is also one of the poorest and the most populated area, which makes the environmental protection challenging as green issues are pushed aside by other more urgent matters, such as clearing land for food-growing and shelter-building.

Taking the Amazon jungle as an example, although it stretches across nearly 10 countries in the region, more than 20 percent of the rainforest has already gone, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). And half of remaining parts could disappear in a few decades, environmental activists warned.

Deforestation is just one of the many ecological disasters Latin America has to contend with. Water scarcity is another problem in many parts of the region, such as overcrowded Mexico City, where some neighborhoods simply never have access to running water and rely instead on regular deliveries from water trucks. Air pollution and contaminated coasts are also pervasive throughout the region.

Fortunately, governments of the region have been aware of the importance of environmental protection and already made some successful stories.

Cuba turned to organic agriculture after the food crisis that gripped the nation in the early 1990s. Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and a longstanding trade embargo that made industrial food production nearly impossible on the island, the Cuban producers turned the declining availability of pesticides, fertilizers and petroleum into an opportunity to shift toward organic production with numerous environmental, social and economic gains.

Solar water heaters are widely used in Barbados, with nearly half of the island's homes equipped with one. The government plans to raise the number of household solar water heaters by 50 percent by 2025.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "the United Nation's Environment Program Green Economy report challenges the myth that there is a trade-off between the economy and the environment. With smart public policies, governments can grow their economies, generate decent employment and accelerate social progress in a way that keeps humanity's ecological footprint within the planet's carrying capacity."

According to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), "From China to Barbados, Brazil to South Africa, countries are developing Green Economy strategies and activities to spur greater economic growth and jobs, environmental protection and equality."

World Earth Day is being commemorated on April 22 annually by different countries across the globe. This event reminds people of the importance of the nature and the need for environmental protection.

The first World Earth Day was marked in 1970.

Among the things promoted on Earth Day include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Editor: Fang Yang
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