Things That Matter

Chile’s Government Is Setting An Example For The World As They Fight Climate Change By Going Carbon Neutral By 2050

Philosophers and scientists might disagree in many things, but today they are both certain of something: climate change is real and it is bound to affect how people live and survive in the planet. As temperatures throughout the world go up and down and plants and animal species perish, governments have been slow to respond to what many believe is humanity’s biggest challenge. 

Climate change can be traced down to many factors, but chief among them (or at least very near to the top) is the use of non-renewable energies such as carbon. While the right-leaning governments of some of the most powerful countries in the world such as the United States and Australia remain sceptic and unfazed about the clear and present danger of climate change, other smaller nations such as Finland and now Chile are taking huge steps towards a carbon neutral future. They know that the time to act is now or there might never be another chance. 

So Chile plans to be carbon neutral by 2050: the clock is ticking.

Chile is now spearheading efforts coming from the developing world to relinquish the use of coal to generate power. Even is the South American country is still coal-dependent, it has set an ambitious goal for the next 30 years that would overhaul decades of non-renewable energies.

It might sound simple, but it is far from it. Becoming carbon neutral implies the refurbishing of enormous infrastructures, acquiring new equipment and rolling out a nationwide network of energy distribution and storage. But the Chilean government, even in the current climate of social unrest, is taking a big step in making carbon neutrality a national priority.

In a column written by Carlos Barría, Head of Prospective and Regulatory Impact Analysis, Ministry of Energy, the government states that Chile believes that Climate Change (CC) is real and that both private and public sectors need to work hand in hand to dramatically reduce emissions. Chilean president Sebastián Piñera can be blamed for many things, of course, but we gotta recognize that he has been a fierce advocate for actions that address climate change. 

The Chilean government is aware that climate change affects those that are the most vulnerable.

Chile’s capital Santiago is experiencing unprecedented levels of pollution and droughts in rural areas have affected farmers and communities. Climate change has exacerbated social inequality worldwide. It is clearly a matter of class and power: those with the economic means are often unwilling to change their business models, even if this means that literally the whole world will suffer.

This is why Chile’s 2050 objective is groundbreaking, particularly coming from a Global South country. Barría’s column continues: “We also know that CC is unfair and most vulnerable affects the most vulnerable, increasing inequalities. Chile is a country vulnerable to the CC, we know that. In addition, during the last few months we have been able to clearly show that economic development alone is not sufficient: it is required to be sustainable, that is, to consider the social, environmental and economic in a comprehensive way.”

We really hope that these are not only empty words and that changes in government do not shift public spending away from the many initiatives that will need to be put in place if 2050 brings a huge reason to celebrate. 

But how do they plan to achieve carbon neutrality? 

The government has set out to implement changes in five different areas, according to the column: “sustainable industry and mining, sustainable housing and public-commercial building, coal-mining plant removal and renewables penetration, electromobility mainly from the public system and methane capture in landfills, change of use of nitrogen fertilizers and capture of methane in animal aging.” Each one of these measures involves considerable investment. But can we put a price on the future? Chile is already leading the way in solar energy farms with enormous facilities in its desert. Only time will tell if the objectives are met. 

The announcement comes as Australia, another Southern Hemisphere country, is literally burning and many blame climate change.

As you read this, an area almost as large as the whole if Ireland is burning in Australia. The increased heat caused by climate change and strong winds have triggered bushfires that have already killed people and about half a billion animals. The federal government refuses to address this as a climate change issue and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been blasted by the media and the public for his lack of leadership in a time of distress. Maybe Australia, a country that relies heavily on mining, can learn from Chile? We would certainly hope so. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com