Chile’s efforts for sustainable transports: Lessons of relevance for other ambitious countries
9 maj 2020
Report updated June 2020After the Corona crisis, when we are about to restart the economy again, there will be an interest in ensuring that what we do will be sustainable and help us reach climate targets as well as the SDGs. In this, we see that the current COP presidency chaircountry Chile has lessons to be learnt of relevance to others in how they strive to reduce the climate impact from the transport sector.
First of all, Chile has done the world’s fastest transition to electromobility (except China) without any subsidies, this is important information to share now in a time when we are short of money in this corona crisis.Secondly, they use what they are good at and their own local preconditions. Chile has the cheapest solar energy in the world, the cheapest windpower in the world, and that’s why they have the electromobility in focus, because it’s connected to what they’re good at themselves.Thirdly, cycling and resilience. As Anna mentioned, we need to build resilience and cycling is such a resilient means of transport. In these corona times, we need to think what can we do to build resilience, and cycling is one way of doing that. Sweden has the goal to become the world’s first fossil free welfare nation, and as Gabriela so strongly pointed out, we need to build welfare for all in the transition.Then, when it comes to lithium, the major producer Albemarle shows that it is highly possible to put sustainability demands on the production of lithium as part of the battery production. There are still some issues to be solved, and I believe that we have only started seeing sustainability demands from car manufacturers on lithium. In a next step, these will be concerted, with some sort of verification or standard, and increasing demands over time.And finally, no single country can be good at everything. Chile wants to lead the way, Sweden wants to lead the way, you have to choose in which areas leadership is possible and relevant. When you are in Chile, there’s a lot of things that don’t impress: there are almost no electric vehicles, the trains are almost irrelevant for passenger transport, there is not much work for sustainable aviation and so forth. This means, according to our interpretation, that Chile has chosen the areas where they believe they can show leadership to the world. Other countries, including Sweden, try to be good at everything which is obviously a great ambition, but also very hard to show the world. For smaller countries such as ours, it makes sense to follow the Chilean example, and clarify which areas where we can really show leadership and focus especially on these.
There is also a great opportunity to learn from Chile’s massive social protests. The message from the streets, where young and old have participated, is that the transition must include the social aspects. The yellow vests in France, the petrol uprise in Sweden and elsewhere, they are all signs of how people are not necessarily against sustainability measures but become critical when they feel excluded of the benefits and very included in the costs. The way forward is not to give benefits which mainly pamper to middle income people in the cities, such as myself, but to ensure that the whole country can be seen as winners, especially low-income groups on the country side experience that the costs are increasing. That’s a way to create greater gaps among the people, both among high- and low-income people and between countryside and city citizens. The climate transition must above all benefit the ones with the greatest needs.
Read the 2030 secretariat’s Chile focus country report here.