South American nation Chile has announced its ambitious and pioneering plan to become a carbon-neutral nation by the middle of the century under a radical plan from president Sebastian Piñera.
Amongst a raft of changes proposed are several massive shifts in the country’s energy policy. Namely, vowing to go carbon neutral by 2050 through the closure of coal-fired power plants and investments into renewable energy technologies.
Chile’s President has vowed to close eight of the country’s 28 coal-fired plants by 2024, which would reduce coal’s share of the energy grid from 40% to a mere 20% in five-years; it’s worth noting that this is significantly more than the Paris Climate Agreement’s mandate of a 30% cut from 2007-CO2 emissions by 2030.
“We are going to deliver this pledge,” Chilean President Piñera said. “The steps that we are announcing are the concrete and real way we will turn words and pledges into facts and reality,” he said.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro withdrew Brazil’s invitation for United Nations’ climate discussions, whereby Chile volunteered to host the talks. According to reports, Chile “has since been in a race to green itself in a bed to lead by example.”
“Santiago de Chile now boasts 200 electric buses, and the second largest fleet in the developing world after China. By comparison, the US currently counts 300 electric buses.”
Chile is yet to publicise the finer details on their wider 2050-target, but has outlined that the pivot in policy is due to the projected impact of climate change on the country of around 18-million. Studies have shown that Chile is amongst the list of the 10 countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change in the future.
Because of the UN climate talks, according toMonica Araya, a former Costa Rican climate negotiator and Latin America climate policy advisor, Chile has gone “from a strikingly unambitious climate pledge” to “championing solar, having the largest fleet of electric buses and now saying ‘we’re going to have a decarbonization plan by 2050’, which is what the Paris Agreement wants countries to do,” she said.
Niklas Höhne, climatologist with the New Climate Institute says Chile’s plans constitute a “prime example of the fast and urgent action that is necessary right now.”
“To our knowledge, there is no other country in the world with such a high share of coal that has set a faster decarbonisation plan for the next five years,” he said.