Delivered by Sr. Marcelo Mena Carrasco, Minister of Environment
Air pollution kills more people than traffic in many countries in the world, and Chile is not an exception. During our government, we carried out a massive effort for clean air. We developed a total of 14 new pollution control programs that benefited 10 million people. In Santiago we developed a new plan called Santiago Respira, which includes a permanent ban on wood burning stoves, and permanent restrictions on dirty cars from circulating, and the first 100 buses electric that join our massive metro system. This total effort will cost 1.7 billion dollars, with benefits of 11.3 billion dollars. We’ve halved emergency room visits due to respiratory disease since we started taking action.
Now will we hear climate denial in the public discourse, president Bachelet has mandated we teach climate science in every schoolroom. We shut the door on large dams in the Patagonia. We’ve expanded our renewable energy substantially, making it the cheapest source of new energy. We’ve seen energy investments double, renewable energy grow by 5, and new energy contract costs drop by 75%. We reached our 20% renewable energy goal 8 years ahead of our 2025 target. We have decreased our emissions intensity in 20% since 2007. We have implemented adaptation plans for the energy, infrastructure, urban, health, agriculture, and fisheries.
The marine litter issue concerns us. Climate change and plastics have a lot in common. Our use of fossil fuels can determine our climate for centuries to come. What we do today will define our children’s ability to thrive in our planet. But with plastics the story is quite similar. We thought the atmosphere was infinite, we couldn’t alter it. We see with ozone layer depletion this isn’t true. We see this with pollution, climate change. We thought the ocean was infinite, and we see plastics accumulate in places that are 4000 km from the nearest city. In human terms, plastics are forever. We need to get them out of our ecosystems.
Chile is committed to the Clean Seas campaign. We have introduced legislation that bans plastic bags in coastal cities. We have approved an extended producer responsibility law to enhance recycling, which includes a deposit system that we will use to significantly enhance plastic bottle collection. We have recently approved a public private partnership in which 14 major retailers have committed to reach zero waste to landfill goals, for which they will receive one of our first ecolabels.
In terms of biodiversity protection, we believe that conservation is also a means of climate adaptation and mitigation. We’ve increased total coverage of marine protection from 4 to 46% of our economic exclusive zone, in one government. Our largest, in Rapa Nui, easter island, developed under indigenous consultation. . We have also been part of one the most beautiful public private partnerships in conservation with a 4.5-million-hectare national park system called the Route of Parks of the Patagonia. Our largest land conservation effort as a country in more than 50 years. This total effort of more 1.7 million km2, more than double of Chile’s continental area.
We believe transformations can occur through transparency, participation, and access to environmental justice. That is why Chile and Costa Rica lead an effort for a regional agreement that encompasses 24 countries to guarantee those rights, and
We believe we’ve made progress, but this is just a start. We support the ministerial declaration.
We must end pollution. Zero emissions. Zero particulate matter. Zero.