Chile’s Environment Protection Agency (EPPA) has labelled the government’s climate change policy “polarised” and “a distraction” from the country’s environmental challenges.
“It is disappointing that this government has adopted this polarisation agenda and we are disappointed with the fact that it has become an election issue,” EPPA head Daniel Jurgen told reporters in Santiago on Thursday.
“We are deeply disappointed that the climate change debate in Chile has become a political issue.”
Jurgen’s comments came as Chilean president Michelle Bachelet launched a new campaign to “combat climate change”, in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election.
Chile has the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Latin America, and the EPPA estimates that climate change could add as much as 5.4 gigatonnes (gt) of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2100.
In the first half of the 20th century, Chile’s total greenhouse gas emissions were around 10 gt.
However, in the past 10 years, Chile has increased its emissions to more than 10 gts a year.
The country has also pledged to slash its emissions by 25 percent by 2025 and reduce its emissions intensity by 25 per cent by 2030.
Jurgens statement came after a survey found that 56 percent of Chileans are opposed to the government introducing a cap-and-trade system.
“Climate change is real, it is happening, and Chileans must act now to stop it from worsening the problems we face as a country,” said Jurgans spokesman, Fernando G. Perez.
“In order to prevent further impacts, we must make sure that the policies we have in place to manage climate change are sustainable and effective.”
EPPA said it would continue to work with the government on climate change initiatives.
Chilean President Michelle Bacchus presidential campaign website