Chile launches the update of its emissions reduction commitment and measures to face climate change

  • The Environment Minister, Carolina Schmidt, asserted that the enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) lays the way for the country to advance at pace with the transition to a low-emission and climate-resilient economy, bringing significant social, environmental and economic benefits to improve standards of living.
  • The Minister for Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet, stressed that “achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2050 is more relevant today than ever and the NDC is an intermediate milestone to fulfill that commitment. Our country’s plan was prepared prioritizing the most cost-effective measures, as in this way we can support the wellbeing of Chileans and enhance our economic recovery.”
  • The Minister of Science, Andrés Couve, highlighted the role of Chile’s scientific community through the COP25 Scientific Committee which made important contributions to the development and improvement of the final NDC: “Today, the Chilean NDC has a scientific basis with a goal and a peak year of emissions that have been clearly established in accordance with the best evidence we have available.”

Via videoconference, the Chilean Government officially submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), becoming the first Latin American country and one of a small group of countries in the world to do so. This document is a requirement established by the Paris Agreement. It contains the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and address the impacts of climate change.

The document was presented by the Minister for the Environment and COP25 President, Carolina Schmidt; the Minister for Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet; and the Minister for Science, Andrés Couve. Connecting from Germany was the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, who warmly received the submission of Chile’s climate commitments.

Minister Schmidt maintained that “when we overcome the [health] crisis, we will enter a period of reactivation that must be sustainable, where recovery plans must consider the climate crisis and its social impacts on people and the planet as a fundamental element. This is a key moment, which is why we are presenting our new NDC with ambitious goals and commitments that allow us to focus our recovery plans on a clear objective: advancing at pace with the transformation towards a low-emission and climate-resilient economy, with significant social, environmental and economic benefits to improve people’s standard of living”.

The Secretary of State added that “for this reason, this new NDC establishes ambitious goals across four central pillars: mitigation, adaptation, integration measures and, for the first time, a social pillar that permeates the other three to direct our development towards one that is low in emissions and resilient to climate, while maintaining focus on the impacts for the lives of people in their local areas”.

Minister Jobet indicated that “the measures are prioritized according to their cost efficiency and grouped into six lines of action. These strands and their respective contribution to CN 2050 are: sustainable industry and mining (25%), hydrogen production and consumption (21)%, sustainable construction of homes and public-commercial buildings (17%), electromobility mainly of public systems (17%), removal of coal-fired power plants (13%) – which is one of the central enabling measures – and other energy efficiency measures (7%)”.

He added that “achieving the goal of Carbon Neutrality would mean investment opportunities of between US$ 27,300 and US$ 48,600 million by 2050.”

Minister Couve emphasized that “for the first time, the national scientific community actively participated to provide evidence for the NDC update. This participation was channeled through the COP25 Scientific Committee, coordinated by the Ministry of Science, where more than 600 Chilean scientists split across seven working groups contributed evidence that has allowed us to contextualize what it means to incorporate the carbon budget into the Chilean reality and, along with it , clearly establish a goal and a peak year in terms of Greenhouse Gas emissions. In addition, there were contributions from the scientific community on oceans, adaptation, biodiversity and the development of the Strategy for Development and Technology Transfer for Climate Change.”


Central theme

Chile’s updated NDC takes a novel approach, presenting a cross-cutting Social Pillar on Just Transition and Sustainable Development. This component serves as an anchor to structure the country’s commitments to tackle climate change in compliance with the Paris Agreement, while simultaneously taking forward the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, established by the UN.

As such, the measures contained in the NDC consider variables such as water security, gender equity and equality, and the just transition, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable in the process of decarbonizing the energy system.

The other key components of the NDC are mitigation, adaptation, integrative action, and measures for implementation (technological capabilities and financing) – each with its own specific targets.

With respect to mitigation, Chile commits to a GHG emissions budget not exceeding 1,100 MtCO2eq between 2020 and 2030, with a GHG emissions maximum (peak) by 2025 and a GHG emissions level of 95 MtCO2eq in 2030. In addition, it targets a reduction of at least 25% of total black carbon emissions by 2030, relative to 2016 levels.

In terms of adaptation, various commitments have been made, among which the strengthening of data and mechanisms to manage the impacts of climate change on water security stand out. These include, for example, the establishment of an indicator nationally and at the scale of individual rivier basins by 2030, which will allow improved monitoring of hydrological stress and risks, helping the country drive towards improved water security.

Similarly, by 2030 strategic plans will have been drawn up for all of the country’s 101 hydrological basins, and all companies in the health sector will have established a plan for disaster risk management which considers those risks associated with climate change.

Meanwhile, in the component focused on integrative action, Chile has set out that a National Landscape Scale Restoration Plan will be established by 2021. This will contemplate the incorporation of 1,000,000 hectares of diverse landscapes into restoration processes by 2030, prioritizing those exhibiting greatest social, economic and environmental vulnerability.

With regards to implementation measures, the delivery of Chile’s Financial Strategy for Climate Change (EFCC) will begin this year.

It is noteworthy that the update of Chile’s NDC followed an extensive and wide-ranging process of stakeholder engagement, involving civil society, academia, the scientific community, and public and private sectors. This engagement began in order to inform the development of the initial NDC proposal and, once this was refined, the public consultation process began, generating 1,573 responses – many of which were included in the final project.

The COP25 Scientific Committee, through its seven working groups, also made crucial contributions to the development and improvement of the final NDC.