Green Growth in the Climate Economy: The case of Chile.

Green Growth in the Climate Economy: The case of Chile.
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Our countries face multiple challenges due to global issues. Our planet is finite, and infinite growth based on extracting natural resources is not possible. Sustainable growth is possible, and provides unique opportunities to tackle the SDGs. It´s not a matter of ideology, but out of necessity.

Year by year we face new climate related challenges. In Chile we’ve faced red tides that have caused large losses to our salmon industry. We’ve faced the largest forest fire the world has seen this decade. We’ve had cities in our deserts face 15 years of rainfall in only 12 hours. This is hindering our growth, and the wellbeing for our people.

Climate denial comes in many ways. Denial of the science: in Chile, we mandated climate science be taught in every schoolroom. Denial of benefits: When we insist in obsolete expensive energies we are denying our people the access to cleaner and cheaper energy. We will not insist on coal as new solar costs half the cost of coal, and this trend will inevitably continue. Coal is a fuel, and will increase its costs. Renewable energy is technology. It decreases cost with time. Insisting in coal is like going back to blockbuster when we have Netflix. It is not a political decision. It is an economical decision. We are enhancing our commitment to 90% renewable energy by 2050.

In 2014 GDP growth decreased due to lower copper demand. But since then renewable energy investments outpaced copper investments, and became the single largest investment sector in the country for almost 4 years. Renewable energy has grown by 5 times, and energy actions have delivered energy that is half the price, and less than half the emissions. We have investments in CSP, geothermal, solar PV, wind, and biomass. We will have novel pump storage solar projects that provide baseload solar at a fraction of the cost of new coal. And now that the climate agenda is requiring more electric vehicles, there is a larger demand for copper, cobalt and lithium. This has made copper price to rise again. And as investments are mobilized these face lower energy costs, and have much lower environmental impacts. Copper mines now provide desalinated water instead of consuming water in our deserts. New mines come in at least with 40% solar or wind energy contracts. We are in the middle of bids to work on higher value added investments on lithium battery technologies. We are investing in ways to incorporate solar energy more broadly into our mining sector, and we will soon be using solar based fuels to displace diesel in trucks, or industrial processes.

In air quality, we have also witnessed a huge transformation. We took part in a massive effort to clean the air in the 14 most polluted cities in Chile. We reduced air quality episodes in 40 to 70%, benefiting 10 million people. Respiratory disease has been halved in places we acted on in comparison to 2013. We shut the door on dirty heating from wood and opened it to clean heating. We spurred investment in cleaner fuels, including dry wood, pellets, natural gas, or electricity. We invested in clean heater overhauls and a thousand of home insulation subsidies. There is an emerging clean heating industry that did not exist. We helped create it.

But if we want sustained growth we also need acknowledge that we can set resources are becoming scarcer and need to recover. We recently announced the network of parks of the Patagonia. 8 new national parks for 4.5 million hectares. We partnered with Tompkins Conservation, which donated 400 thousand hectares. It was the largest land donation to a government by the private sector. And we reciprocated adding more national land to the parks system. This parks system holds 900 million tons of CO2, and we won’t ever let that go in the atmosphere.

We need ocean conservation to grow too. 30% of CO2 that is captured is in oceans. These oceans feed billions of people. The Paris Agreement says we must have zero emissions by the end of the century. We have nothing nearly as ambitious for oceans, despite the challenges we face. Chile hosted the international marine protected area conference recently. We announced we have moved from 4.3% of protected areas in our exclusive economic zone to 46% by 2018. We recently announced that the Rapa Nui have voted to create a 720,000 km2 marine protected area to limit fishing to traditional techniques. We have announced marine parks in Cape Horn and in the Juan Fernandez islands. We have announced the networks of marine protected areas in the Magallanes Region. We will reach 1.6 million km2 of marine conservation, more than twice of our continental surface. Ocean conservation is climate action. We need to guarantee carbon capture occurs. Ocean conservation is climate adaptation. Healthier coastal ecosystems are more resilient to climate change. Ocean conservation is economically smart. We allow marine biomass to grow by 5 times, and ensure the activity for the future.

We believe in public participation and people’s right to information on environmental issues. These processes make better policies. We are promoting a regional negotiation process for a binding agreement for Latinamerica on public participation, the right to now, and environmental justice modelled on the Aarhus agreement.

In the end, sustainable growth requires a long-term vision. Every ton of CO2 we emit puts future generations at risk. Every ton of overfishing puts us closer to fishery collapse. Every ton of plastic we put in our oceans will linger for hundreds of years.

The sustainability development goals are a roadmap for green growth. We have invested in better education, gender equality, we’ve implemented a tax reform to address income inequality. We’re providing cleaner cheaper energy and as a result we’re having healthier and more efficient cities. We’re investing in climate adaptation to ensure clean water sources for our people. We’re promoting sustainable consumption through pollution taxes and an extended producer responsibility law. We believe in public private partnerships. We believe the sustainability development goals provide an opportunity to provide wellbeing for our people and the planet, not for the next 4 years, but forever.

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