Embedding Climate Action at the Heart of Chilean Society

Addressing climate change has become a central issue in Chile's public policy. As part of that debate, Dr. Maisa Rojas, researcher in Atmospheric Physics, who currently serves as Chilean Minister for Environment and Marco Billi of the Centre for Climate and Resilience Research, Universidad de Chile, propose a new model of governance at the country level to facilitate the changes needed. The proposal – written before Dr. Rojas' appointment to the Chilean government – is published in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters.

The model proposed places climate action as the basis of a new social and ecological order coherent with carbon-neutral, resilient development and social justice. It looks though the lens of climate change at the relationship a society has to all the elements of nature, embedding it in all institutions in charge of economic development, social welfare, and environmental management.

Billi says: "Chile is under increasing climate stress, with more frequent storms, heat waves, forest fires and human-caused water shortages. These are closely connected issues; changes in land use affect water availability, while climate change accelerates fires, releasing greenhouse gases and pollution. Tackling these problems requires the recognition that the climate change and biodiversity crises are unified and that the solutions to one must not worsen the other."

The effects of climate change are most profound in vulnerable and marginalised groups. Inequality is a key driver of environmental conflicts and social unrest, increased by the weakness of participation mechanisms, leaving local and indigenous communities unprotected against the power of large corporations.

Billi adds: "In the face of current challenges, there is an urgent need for a new model of governance, which should favour a transformative change in the way in which our society relates to nature and manages climate change and its risks."

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