Policy Brief | What Was Discussed During the General Discussion of the Climate Change Framework Bill in the Senate Committee on Environment and National Assets?

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Pilar Moraga, Principal Researcher of (CR)2 and Deputy Director of the Center of Environmental Law of the School of Law of Universidad de Chile; Francisco Martínez, student of Public Administration at Universidad de Chile; Antoine Maillet, academic of the Institute of Public Affairs of Universidad de Chile and Research Associate of (CR)2.

On January 20, 2020, the Senate Committee on Environment and National Assets initiated a general discussion of the Climate Change Framework Bill (PLMCC for its acronym in Spanish). Since then, and up until July 9th, 15 public hearings have been held,[1] in which different stakeholders from the social, academic, private, public and international spheres participated.

Type of stakeholder No. of interventions
Academia 11
Civil society 9
Former authorities 5
Private sector 4
Public sector 3
International organization 1
Total 33

Based on these sessions, the Climate Change Law Observatory for Chile has prepared 15 briefs, from which the main proposals formulated therein are summarized.

In terms of principles and concepts, it was proposed to improve the wording of the concept of sink; to improve the wording of the principles of non-regression, water security, scientific, cost-effectiveness and precautionary; to incorporate the polluter-pays principle, the preventive principle, climate justice, intergenerational equity, liability and adaptive management. At the same time, it was proposed to include the following concepts: vulnerable groups, climate change-linked risks, nature- and climate ambition-based solutions, and to standardize the terms used in the PLMCC according to the technical documents used in the global negotiation on climate change, as well as those contained in the glossary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In terms of institutional matters, several comments were made regarding the need to revise the PLMCC in order to avoid diminishing the competencies and role of the Ministry of the Environment in favor of sectorial Ministries and mainly the Ministry of Finance, as well as the MOP in the case of the Strategic Plans for Water Resources in Basins (PERHC for its acronym in Spanish). The need to include more ministries was also raised and special emphasis was made on the inclusion of the Ministry of Social Development in Article 16 of the PLMCC.

At the same time, the need to strengthen the Scientific Committee was brought up, suggesting that its members be permanent (representatives of centers of excellence) and to define the profile of its members.

Some stakeholders proposed the creation of new institutions, such as a climate change coordinating body at the presidential level; an “Independent Agency” with a strong technical component and funding to resolve sectorial disputes and adequately address climate change; the creation of a Citizens’ Committee at the national and regional levels; and the creation of an autonomous body on climate change.

Several observations were made regarding the need to strengthen and specify the role and competencies of regional and municipal governments in climate change issues and to eliminate the figure of the Presidential Delegate, replacing him or her with the Governor in order to avoid exacerbating the law’s centralist approach.

Several invitees stressed the importance of re-establishing presidential power to increase the goal, as established in the draft bill.

As for the instruments, numerous observations were made regarding the need to coordinate the new instruments and to consider economic instruments (green tax; carbon prices and mechanisms for modifying these; differentiate the Environmental Protection Fund from the climate action financing fund in order to avoid any competition with citizens’ projects; establish that the collection of carbon tax will fund adaptation and mitigation projects; include corrective taxes; and create a financeable project bank).

With respect to the Long-Term Climate Strategy (LTCS), it was proposed that this strategy establish a clearer methodology and that it consider an integrated model of macroeconomic and social effects, intermediate goals and periodic (annual) National Climate Change Action Reports (RANCC for its acronym in Spanish). It was also proposed to establish annual carbon budgets so that the RANCCs and sectorial plans can emphasize results and take advantage of opportunities to make timely adjustments and conduct monitoring each year, placing an emphasis on expected results rather than processes.

The relevance of establishing adaptation goals was raised and the purely sectorial approach contemplated by the PLMCC was put into question.

In relation to the sectorial plans and the possibility of these being adjusted in case the sector is unable to reach its goal, mention was made of the fact that it would be more advisable to establish compensation mechanisms or economic incentives instead of the possibility of excusing compliance. At the same time, the need to privilege a territorial rather than a sectorial approach was highlighted. The need to incorporate adaptation and mitigation criteria in all of the State’s public management instruments was also discussed.

In relation to the Financial Strategy, comments were made regarding the need for specifying its content more and that it should include budget items for regional and local governments.

Mention was also made of specifying the content of emissions standards and certification mechanisms of emissions reduction (academia, former authorities, civil society).

It was also proposed to incorporate the Strategic Environmental Assessment in the bill’s instruments, risk management instruments, and to establish a system for reviewing emission standards and decontamination plans.

One of the most commented aspects was that of citizen participation and transparency. In this regard, observations were made as to how to implement citizen participation through consultation processes, which, in the opinion of those intervening in the bill’s discussion, would constitute a limited space in terms of the engagement and involvement of the different stakeholders. The lack of participation in regional plans and in the implementation of public policy instruments was also questioned, as was also the process of waiving compliance with sectorial goals by the CMSCC. The need to ratify the Escazú Agreement was also brought up on multiple occasions by several invitees (academia, civil society, former authorities, international organizations).

Finally, those invited to the discussion underscored the need to enhance the role of regional and local governments (municipalities) (academia, civil society, former authorities).

Notes

[1] Session dates: January 20, 27 and 28; March 2; April 16 and 23; May 7, 14, 22 and 28; June 9, 16 and 25; July 2 and 9.