Chile’s leading role in sustainability –

According to the Climate Change Performance Index, Chile ranks eleventh globally, securing first place in the Americas and gaining recognition as one of the countries showing “high performance” in tackling climate change.

Chile, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, has implemented an adaptation strategy supported by more than two decades of public policy and strong collaboration between public, private, academic and civil society sectors. These efforts have led to the country becoming a global benchmark in key areas such as energy transition, green investments and sustainable tourism, and gaining international recognition for its achievements. This year, Chile’s prominent role became clear at COP 28, where Environment Minister Maisa Rojas played a key role in negotiations that marked a turning point in the shift away from fossil fuels.

In COP28 as a pioneer on environmental issues in the region

At COP28, Chile’s commitments were appreciated worldwide, especially among developed countries, which see Chile as an area rich in natural resources and with the potential to promote CO2 emissions reductions in major economies. A good example is the European Union, which has recognized Chile’s leading role in the fight against climate change in the region and in the introduction of renewable energy sources. Chile and Europe have common goals related to carbon neutrality, accelerating industrial transformation, reaching agreement on the use of hydrogen and working together to promote and facilitate targeted climate actions, contributing to a just energy transition.

Minister Rojas has been invited for the third time to facilitate international negotiations together with Australian Deputy Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Jenny McAllister, and during this session mediated a crucial dialogue: the global adaptation goal. This led to the adoption of a framework designed to guide countries’ efforts to protect both populations and ecosystems from the impacts of climate change.

Cooperation with the European Union

Irene Miguelsanz Villanueva, Member of the European Commission’s Directorate for Latin America and the Caribbean, responsible for the Euroclimate program on climate change, emphasizes close and strategic cooperation between the European Union and Chile, based on common objectives. This synergy promises effective cooperation as both sides are committed to combating climate change and aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. Concretely, a new agreement was signed between the European Union and Chile on December 13, 2023.

This agreement outlines an ambitious and contemporary framework designed to create new economic opportunities, enhance political cooperation and boost trade and investment between the two sides. The agreement includes a chapter on cooperation for sustainable development, covering issues such as the environment, sustainable energy and climate change. In this context, both sides are prohibited from excessively promoting trade and investment in a manner that circumvents or fails to comply with environmental laws. In addition, both the European Union and Chile are committed to the effective implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and all other multilateral environmental treaties to which they are signatories.

Ewout Sandker, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation in Chile, highlighted the exceptional conditions in Chile for the production of hydrogen at a very competitive price. He also said the European Union wants to import Chilean hydrogen to decarbonize the European economy. Sandker emphasized the importance of supporting countries with significant potential, pointing to Chile as one of the leaders in the region and globally.

Chile’s ambitious goals

Chile is committed to achieving high standards of environmental sustainability and protection in an increasingly complex global landscape. This commitment is reflected in various initiatives, such as the Climate Change Framework Act, which aims to make the country carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2050, together with the energy transition strategy, the national lithium strategy, green hydrogen and electromobility.

In 2020, Chile submitted a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a target of 95 million tons by 2030. To achieve this goal, the country has focused heavily on renewable energy. The goal was to increase renewable energy production by 20 percent by 2025, from both wind and solar energy. In 2022, energy production from solar and wind energy exceeded that from coal for the first time, marking an important milestone. The main objective of the plan is to address the immediate and near future challenges posed by the effects of climate change on the country’s land, while promoting the fulfillment of Chile’s obligations within the UNFCCC. It is intended as a comprehensive instrument for a unified climate policy across the country in the short and medium term, providing a guiding framework for all stakeholders and laying the foundation for long-term sustainable efforts.

Another objective is to increase Chile’s ability to adapt to climate change by increasing understanding of its impacts and the country’s rural vulnerability, and by devising strategic actions to mitigate negative impacts and provide beneficial utilize effects. Furthermore, it promotes economic and social progress and maintains environmental sustainability, while ensuring the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

To date, Chile is the first country in South America to have a green hydrogen law, and is among the seven countries with the largest types of projects in the world, along with Australia, Germany, China, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.As a result, the country receives a remarkably favorable rating, especially in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
This suggests that Chile has the potential to become the only zero-emission country in Latin America by 2040, with a favorable outcome if the benefits outweigh the investments.