Presidential Elections

What Chile’s future president says about: climate

With the country’s presidential runoff election on Dec. 19, Chile Today takes a look at what the candidates have to offer on the most urgent topics. We analyze the latest versions of their presidential programs and compare their proposals. Today Part I: Climate.

Chile signed the Powering Past Coal Alliance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), becoming one of 23 nations to make new pledges to phase out coal power during COP26. Signatories also promised to increase their use of clean power, ensuring the transition away from coal. The signing of the pact, which forms part of the Glasgow Climate Agreement, is a huge step forward for the world.

With the second round of presidential elections coming up next week, here is a side-by-side look at what the candidates have to offer on climate change.

José Antonio Kast

The Republican candidate’s program promises economic growth with zero carbon footprint and goes on to say that his prospective administration would adopt measures for the reduction and improved efficiency of appropriate pollutants such as coal. This coincides with the Glasgow Climate Pact which sees signatories provide “accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

Kast hopes to introduce new conservation laws that seek to uphold and encourage the country’s biodiversity. His program has named one such law the Environmental Responsibility Law, which will be applicable to indigenous people, local jurisdictions, and the national government.  Part of the proposed law seeks to introduce the education of the environment within communities, professional spaces, and academic curricula.

Also read:

What will remain of the presidential programs?

Gabriel Boric

Boric plans to have renewable energy systems such as wind turbines installed in the region of Quintero-Punchucaví. The plan aims to potentially offset the use of coal from the industrial park set up in the area. He also plans to have hydrogen energy power plants installed throughout the nation and will try to encourage innovation at various levels from the generation of the systems to consumers and workers. “For this industry to be sustainable, in addition to taking advantage of renewable generation sources, we seek to produce research, development, and training of workers.”

Boric has named his proposed conservation law the Biodiversity Service and Protected Areas (SBAP) law. Under a Boric administration, the law would recognize and strengthen the participation of communities fighting against climate change. It will also “recognize the vocation and characteristics of these territorial lands.” His law aims to bring about the “socio-environmental repair” of Chile’s sacrifice zones, areas in Chile which suffer from the extreme effects of socio-environmental problems.

Additionally, the former student leader will set out to protect environmental activists who are susceptible to violations of their human rights from championing their causes.

Common ground

Despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum, both candidates look to increase

the budget for climate change related issues. According to Kast’s program, the right-wing candidate will use the increased monetary funds for the National Forestry Corporation. His left-wing opponent, Boric, on the other hand, will dedicate the extra funds to improving agriculture and sustainable farming.

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