NEW YORK – On Sept. 23, President Piñera won the Global Citizen Award 2019. This prize, presented by the Atlantic Council, was awarded for his participation in the fight against climate change. A number of different organizations, however, have heavily criticized his lack of drive in helping the environment.
President Piñera was awarded the Global Citizen Award this year for his “exemplary contribution to the global community and Chile, demonstrated through his innovative leadership to address climate change.”
The Global Citizen Awards are presented by the Atlantic Council and are awarded to individuals who have made significant global contributions. In prior years, winners have included former President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and Hollywood actor Robert de Niro.
The Atlantic Council is an American think tank with strong transatlantic ambitions in international affairs. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., it runs programs related to global economic prosperity and international security.
Due to the nature of the Council and the fact that presidents and former presidents have won the award every year since 2013, it is possible that there is a political motivation behind this award.
Piñera’s Fight Against Climate Change
In his acceptance speech, Piñera emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the fight against climate change and shared Chile’s own goals in combating global warming, including vowing that Chile would be completely carbon neutral by 2050.
How is Chile turning itself carbon neutral? President @sebastianpinera shares his country’s strategy:
— Atlantic Council (@AtlanticCouncil) September 23, 2019
This award follows the comments he made to the U.S. and China during the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019. In reference to the global fight against climate change, he said: “It is really impressive and incredible that the two strongest powers in the world, instead of leading this great challenge we face, are involved in this stupid tariff war.”
“Our leaders have failed us”
Members of Chao Pescao demonstrated outside the Ministry of Environment in Santiago in rejection of the award presented to Piñera. A spokesperson of the organization commented on Piñera’s promise to close plants by 2050: “People die every day in areas of sacrifice. Science has proved it. Thermoelectric plants can be closed by 2030.”
Greenpeace also spoke out against Piñera’s commitment to combating climate change, more particularly against his speech at the United Nations last week in a tweet, calling it a “a new missed opportunity.”
The organization believes that Piñera does not communicate the reality of the environmental crisis in the country and chooses not to disclose information which may be seen as incriminating, such as the fact that there is still no real government commitment to renewable energy.
Ángela Valenzuela, spokesperson for Fridays for Future Santiago, spoke in front of the United Nations building and criticized the government’s commitment to helping the environment: “Chile is the land of empty speeches. We have a country that dries and burns in the face of the climate crisis.”
“We have been members of the United Nations framework convention on climate change for 20 years, but what has been done in these years? Opening 14 thermoelectric plants in the last 10 years, we have lost 1.2 million hectares of forests and have turned our backs on the defenders of the planet by not signing the Escazú Agreement. Unfortunately we are going in the opposite direction.”
🗣 President Piñera will receive the "Global Citizen Award 2019" next week. According to the organization behind the…
Ana Truesdale is a British student, studying Liberal Arts at Durham Univeristy, who is currently interning at Chile Today on her year abroad. She has a strong interest in Latin American culture and journalism and wishes to experience all that Chile has to offer.