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Cablegate: Chile's New Action Plan On Climate Change

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1096/01 3501221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151221Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4129
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHDC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001096

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SENV ENRG PGOV CI TRGY

SUBJECT: Chile's New Action Plan on Climate Change

1. (SBU) Summary: President Michelle Bachelet announced December 4th
a National Action Plan on Climate Change, the culmination of a
three-year process conducted by the National Commission for the
Environment (CONAMA). The plan is divided into three categories:
adapting to the effects of climate change, ways to mitigate climate
change and how to increase Chile's capacity to address the problem.
It replaces the existing National Strategy on Climate Change and
makes specific institutions responsible for each priority with a
precise timeframe for completion. Reaction from experts was mixed.
Some consider the plan an improvement from the previous strategy.
Some deem the plan's measures incomplete and suggest incorporating
the private sector and civil society. Chilean Minister of the
Environment Ana Lya Uriarte will present the plan at the XIV UN
Conference on Climate Change the second week of December. End
Summary
A Plan for Action
-----------------
2. (U) The National Action Plan on Climate Change was created by
CONAMA under the supervision of Minister Uriarte. The goal of the
document is to outline concrete steps the GOC's environmental
institutions, academic establishments, and non-governmental
organizations are expected to take to address climate change and its
adverse effects. President Bachelet believes this plan will
demonstrate that less developed nations should also take action to
contribute to efforts to diminish greenhouse gas emissions.
3. (U) The content of the plan is the result of a series of climate
change diagnostic studies conducted by CONAMA as early as 2005. The
studies indicate that, if the current level of emissions does not
change by 2100 the average temperature in Chile will rise four
degrees, levels of rain and snow will decrease, and the oceans'
temperature will continue to drop. These alterations are expected to
negatively impact agriculture, forests, animal life, and
hydroelectric power generation. [NOTE: Chile's electricity matrix
is dominated by hydropower plants.]
4. (U) The document is designed to address the three objectives
outlined in the previous Climate Change National Strategy approved
in January 2006: adapting to the effects of climate change, ways to
mitigate climate change, and how to increase Chile's capacity to
address the problem. The plan sorts 16 specific sets of priorities
into the three categories and outlines the specific government
entities that will address and implement each of the priorities. A
specific timeframe for completion is also included for each area.
Adapting to the Effects of Climate Change
-----------------------------------------
5. (U) The GOC identified hydro resources, food production, urban
and coastal infrastructure, and energy supply as the four areas most
susceptible to climate change. In order to protect these resources,
CONAMA studied several vulnerability scenarios that evaluated the
environmental, socio-economic, and sanitary impacts of climate
change. The information gathered from the studies served to create
a series of steps at the national and regional level intended to
help Chile adapt to the effects of climate change.

6. (U) The most relevant short-term measures in this category
include: 1. Strengthening and creating new capacities to face yellow
fever, dengue, and malaria, 2. Creating a water investigation center
in the Atacama Region, 3. Constructing a glacier inventory,
installing a monitoring network and generating a glacier management
strategy, 4. Constructing desalination plants to provide potable
water to the Norte Grande cities, 5. Constructing new dams to
increase the amount of watered surface by 50 percent, 6. Improving
the nation's capability to predict and respond to hydrologic
emergencies by repairing and repositioning bridges (240 by 2014),
building new bridges (180 by 2020), and increasing the availability
of bridges, 7. Developing new approaches to address climate change
in the agricultural and forestry sector.
Ways to Mitigate Climate Change
--------------------------------
7. (U) The plan also discusses the need to reduce the Chilean
economy's dependence on coal, contribute to a path of sustainable
development, and join global efforts to prevent the effects of
climate change. This objective provides guidance on how to mitigate
the impact of national emissions by identifying tangible steps to
reduce them and improve biological absorption of coal in regions
that rely on agricultural, mining, and transportation industries.
8. (U) The GOC plans to mitigate climate change by calling on
specific environmental institutions to: 1. Take advantage of the
bioenergy potential from agrarian and cattle residue, 2. Create and
implement partnerships to study second-generation biofuels
production, 3. Utilize the state's loan guarantees to promote
investment in renewable energies, 4. Install thermal solar systems
in public, commercial industrial, and residential sectors, 5. Create
a center for renewable energy, 6. Implement a Chilean biofuels
policy, 7. Establish annual levels of emissions for the copper
mining industry, 8. Determine the amount of greenhouse gasses
generated by the agrarian and cattle sectors, 9. Design a labeling
system for new vehicles identifying levels of carbon dioxide
emission, 10. Develop incentives to use more energy efficient
vehicles such as hybrid and electric cars, 11. Provide the
infrastructure and safety features needed to encourage bicycles as a
primary mode of transportation.
Increasing Chile's Capability to Address the Problem
--------------------------------------------- -------
9. (U) The document discusses the importance of educating its
citizens on general environmental issues and particularly those
related to climate change. This segment of the plan acknowledges a
need to enhance the quality and accessibility to information related
to this issue. The last objective outlines several steps to improve
the accuracy of the information the public and private sector use
for decision-making. The plan specifically calls for a National
Educational and Awareness Climate Change Plan.

Reaction from Academia
-----------------------
10. (SBU) Juan Carlos Castilla, an ecologist from the Universidad
Catolica, told E/Pol officer that the GOC's move from a National
Strategy to a National Plan as a step in the right direction. He
believes the plan contains useful diagnostic information, provides
specific consequences from Chile's emissions, and presents a clear
course of action for the next four years with measurable objectives.
Castilla believes the plan falls short in addressing behavioral
changes. He would prefer a document that contains a more detailed
educational plan (beyond the current measures) and provides guidance
on the topic to schools for the next 10 to 15 years.

View from a Climate Change Expert
----------------------------------
11. (SBU) Eduardo Zanhueza, climate change expert and advisor to the
UN Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean
(ECLC/CEPAL) expressed concern to us that the document does not
explicitly mention a role for either the private sector or civil
society. Both are involved and impacted by the proposed measures.
The plan does not exclude these entities from participating in the
mitigation process yet Zanhueza fears that without clear guidelines
their involvement will not be guaranteed which would weaken Chile's
efforts to reduce emissions.
Chile's Environmental Commitment on the Global Stage
--------------------------------------------- --------
12. (U) A Chilean delegation will present the action plan to the 192
nations expected at the XIV UN Conference on Climate Change hosted
in Poznan, Poland. Minister Uriarte plans to encourage other
countries to continue to engage in environmental negotiations under
the guidance of the UN. She will reiterate Bachelet's commitment to
mitigating climate change. Uriarte also plans to ask industrial
countries to pay for additional studies in the field and
implementing green technology in developing countries.
Comment
-------
13. (SBU) The 2008-2012 Chilean National Action Plan on Climate
Change is a comprehensive initiative with suggested concrete steps.
The document covers a four-year period, which could minimize the
impact of Chile's presidential elections on the implementation of
the plan (December 2009). The Action Plan makes specific agencies
responsible for each of its measures but fails to outline how the
GOC plans to enforce the actions listed. Bachelet announced funds
will be provided for each of the plan's objectives yet the document
only lists specific figures for a limited number of measures
(approximately 412 million dollars.
SIMONS

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