Chile set to go even greener this year

Among proposed changes, Chile plans to introduce new green initiatives to help improve energy efficiency.

Following on promises to do more to improve the environment, President Michelle Bachelet has announced initiatives to do just that, with Chile set to be the first South American country to introduce tax incentives for going green.

Chile would become the first country in South America to have a carbon tax if the legislation is passed, following Mexico’s lead in Latin America with this “green tax.” Mexico introduced this measure to improve environmental conditions in January 2014, placing a fee on fossil fuels, including gasoline.

Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco announced plans to increase the mining sector’s energy efficiency as a key part of the government’s policy.

The introduction of a carbon tax would also add incentives for renewable energy projects, with the Atacama Desert playing host to a growing number of solar energy developments.

The Atacama, the driest desert in the world, will soon be home to the world’s largest solar project. While solar currently accounts for more than half of the country’s greenlit renewable energy projects, there is also great potential for wind, tidal and geothermal projects along the length of the country.

The tax is set to be US$5 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted, with Environment Minister Pablo Badenier expecting the green tax to create incentives for polluters to change their ways.

“Once you have the taxation in place, you open a range of possibilities to reduce emissions,” he said, adding that companies can incorporate green technologies or change the fuels they use.

Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco agreed and noted the benefit of adapting to the new rules.

“I think companies can adapt well, and those that adapt won’t need to pay the tax.”

The introduction of the new laws would be a step ahead for Chile, and an example for South American neighbors to set standards in order to live in a less polluted world.