The Minister of the Environment, Carolina Schmidt, announced that the government has presented a draft law on climate change to Congress. It will lay the foundations for the country’s transversal transformation, promoting low-emission and climate-resilient development in order to reduce the impact that climate change has on people.
This bill seeks to establish a legal framework through which to assign specific responsibilities for the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, promoting sustainable development that balances social, environmental and economic dimensions, but always with a focus on people.
Minister Schmidt indicated that the bill “establishes clear objectives for climate change mitigation and adaptation, incorporating the concept of water security and identifying the actions required to reduce Chile’s vulnerability and strengthen its resilience to climate change.”
She pointed out that the bill defines carbon neutrality by 2050 as a national goal or, in other words, the achievement of a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and absorption. This will position Chile as the first developing country to establish this objective by law.
The bill also contains seven management instruments for the goal’s achievement. It stipulates, for example, the establishment of a Long-Term Climate Strategy, with a total budget of greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 and 2050, and adaptation targets by sector, which must be met within ten years. In addition, the bill contains guidelines on adaptation to climate change, as well as on risk assessment, considering the vulnerability of each specific sector.
It also establishes an obligation to draw up sector-specific mitigation plans for reducing emissions and adapting to climate change, with a focus on analyzing the country’s vulnerabilities and proposing actions to reduce the risks of the effects of climate change to which all its inhabitants are exposed.
It will, in addition, be obligatory to draw up Strategic Water Resource Plans for the country’s 101 basins, aimed at ensuring water security, in order to safeguard over time access to water, at the local level, in the quantity and of the quality required for health, subsistence, socioeconomic development and the conservation of ecosystems.
Other instruments envisaged in the bill include formalization of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as an intermediate goal for 2030 for achieving emissions neutrality and the preparation of a National Climate Change Action report and Regional Climate Change Action Plans.
The law will also establish an incentive for donations for the protection, care and conservation of the environment and the implementation of climate action projects as regards both mitigation and adaptation.
These donations, by companies or individuals, may be used for a specific purpose such as financial support for the maintenance of a private protected area, management plans for a nature sanctuary or solar panels for indigenous communities.
Contributions may take the form of money or movable or immovable property, donated by individuals and organizations, and will be made through the Environmental Protection Fund (FPA).
The bill will also empower the Ministry of the Environment to regulate greenhouse gases for the first time in Chile, establishing an emissions limit by source or group of sources. This mechanism will oblige companies to adopt the best available technologies in order to comply with the new norms that will be drawn up.
Given the transversal nature of climate change, the bill also proposes a reform of the Council of Ministers for Sustainability, incorporating the Ministries of Education and Science and giving the Council new powers.