Chile’s new law to combat the climate crisis

A new law from the Ministry of Environment sets a framework for Chile to manage its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The law includes emission standards, citizen participation policies, and financial strategies to ensure climate goals are achieved. Though Chile’s emissions are small compared to other countries’, its emissions rates have spiked in recent years.     

On June 13, the Ministry of Environment published Law 21455. The law establishes a legal framework to combat and face the challenges presented by climate change. Its three primary objectives are:

  1. To decrease greenhouse gas emissions
  2. To adapt to climate impacts, such as abnormal tides, temperature increases, floods, and droughts
  3. To promote food security, increase water availability, and reduce pollution and health risks

The law’s Article 4 aims for Chile to reach and maintain neutrality in greenhouse emissions by 2050. To ensure this goal is achieved, the Ministry of Environment will be monitoring compliance every five years. 

Regulation at three levels

The law includes management tools that will be used to regulate climate change at the national, regional, and local levels. 

A Long-Term Climate Strategy, an instrument recognized by the Paris Agreement, will be one of the tools at the national level. The strategy will define the general long-term guidelines Chile needs to follow. The Ministry of Environment will be tasked with developing the strategy in collaboration with sectoral ministries as well as the public through “citizen participation” opportunities.

Regional climate change action plans will be created by Regional Climate Change Committees. The purpose of these plans will be to define the objectives of climate change management. In particular, these plans will ensure instruments and objectives created to manage climate change are in accordance with currently existing instruments and laws. 

Santiago implements water rationing plan

At the local level, the Ministry of Public Works will be leading water management. This entails creating Strategic Plans for Water Resources in river basins. These plans will be reviewed every five years, and updated every 10. 

The Ministry of Environment will also be responsible for creating Issuance Standards for greenhouse gasses and polluting agents. The Superintendence of the Environment will enforce the standards and punish violators. Certificates of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be used to award compliance with emission standards. 

Citizen access and participation 

The law also establishes the National System of Access to Information and Citizen Participation on Climate Change. This system is intended to promote transparency and public dialogue. It states that every person shall have the right to participate in the preparation, updating, and monitoring of climate change management instruments. The ministry will also give special consideration to vulnerable sectors and communities.  

The Ministry of Finance will supervise the Climate Change Financial Strategy. The strategy will address financing, investment, and risk management. The ministry will be required to update the strategy at least every five years and must also file annual progress reports. A major source of funding will be the Environmental Protection Fund. The fund was established in 1994 by Law 19300 and is responsible for financing specific mitigation and adaptation projects that help address the causes and adverse effects of climate change.

Chile’s climate profile 

Our World In Data publishes CO2 Country Profiles,  which summarize CO2 emissions in nations over the past century. According to Chile’s profile, its greatest CO2  emissions are from oil production (43 million tons in 2020), followed by coal production (26 million tons in 2020). 

From 2000 to 2020, Chile’s annual CO2 emissions rose from 58 to 82 million tons. However, Chile only contributes about 0.23 percent to worldwide CO2 emissions; and Latin America’s largest contributor, Brazil, only adds 1.34 percent. In contrast, the world’s largest contributor, China, pumps out about 31 percent of the total.

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