PRESS RELEASE

Chile must implement measures to stem environmental pressures - OECD

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

PRESS RELEASE

By OECD

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July 21

21/07/2016 - Chile has taken steps to address the rising environmental pressures from its rapid economic growth, strengthening its environmental institutions and introducing new instruments, including a carbon tax. It now needs to move ahead and thoroughly implement policy measures to stem the threat to its land, air and water, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD's second Environmental Performance Review of Chile notes that the country's natural resource-based economic model is starting to show its limits.

"Chile is an economic powerhouse in Latin America, and the question for the next quarter century is whether it will be able to continue to deliver that growth in a way that protects its environmental asset base," said OECD Environment Director Simon Upton, launching the Review in Santiago.

Chile has one of the most resource-intensive economies of OECD countries and is over-reliant on natural resources like copper, agriculture, forestry and fishery for delivering economic growth. It suffers from persistently high air pollution in urban and industrial areas, water shortages and pollution, habitat loss and vulnerability to climate change. More than 95% of its waste continues to be landfilled.

A third of Chile's total energy needs are covered by renewable sources - the fifth-highest share among OECD countries, with firewood and hydropower the chief renewable energy sources. Yet greenhouse gas emissions rose by 23% over the decade to 2010 and are set to keep rising. Chile committed in 2015 to reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity by 30% by 2030 compared to 2007 levels and by up to 45% if international support is provided. Achieving this will entail moving beyond the piecemeal approach that has characterised Chilean climate policy to date and clarifying institutional responsibilities for climate change mitigation and adaptation, the Review says.

Chile has nearly a fifth of its land area under nature protection and is planning to build the largest marine park in the Americas. Managing protected areas effectively will require strengthened governance, additional financial and human resources, and greater public participation in decision making and implementation.

Recommendations in the Review include that Chile:

  • Improve collection of environmental data and make them available to the public and international bodies.
  • Apply the tax on emissions of local air pollutants and CO2 to more emission sources, and increase the carbon tax rate.
  • Develop, implement, evaluate and update plans to tackle air pollution in all areas that exceed quality standards.
  • Identify financing requirements and sources to achieve the climate goals.
  • Make greater use of payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets.
  • Complete the water allocation reform to cap abstractions, reflect ecological requirements and give priority to essential water uses.