Santiago de Chile - An approach through air pollution

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all the non-State actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies, and actions undertaken by the actors of the territory. In 2019, in order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes 13 new case studies of cities and regions. Here, the case of the Chilean capital.

To download : climate-chance-2019.pdf (1.5 MiB)

Governance and integration of climate policies

Major pollution peaks in the 1990s prompted the Santiago metropolitan region (declared saturated with ozone in 1996 and then with fine particles in 2012) to define a climate policy very early on, more oriented towards reducing atmospheric pollution than towards reducing CO2 emissions. Thus, in 1998, the first plan was adopted, and the last Atmospheric Prevention and Decontamination Plan (PPDA) in 2017 for a period of 10 years.

These plans are defined by the Chilean Ministry of the Environment and are implemented by the Regional Secretariat of the Ministry of the Environment. The plan proposes two types of measures, those applicable permanently and those applicable only in the event of pollution peaks, and covers the main areas of transport, industry and housing.

Monitoring and evaluation of climate policy

The Santiago metropolitan region is the main emitting region in Chile, accounting for 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions for 37% of the Chilean population. Regional GHG emissions increased by 141.6% between 1990 and 2016 to reach 22.3 MtCO2eq. Over the period 2013-2016, the increase is equal to 16.4% even though the national increase is only 7.1%. In 2016, the main sources of emissions were the fuel consumption of cars, buses and trucks, i.e. the transport sector, which accounted for 41.2% (Chile MMA, 2019). It was followed by the residential, industrial and tertiary/institutional sectors, at 9.6%, 8.5% and 6% respectively. Electricity generation accounts for only 3.6 per cent and waste treatment for 5.5 per cent.

Despite the increase in emissions in metropolitan France, the frequency of peak emission days has considerably decreased between 1997 and 2017 : 79 days were considered critical in 1997, compared to only 3 in 2017. The presence of suspended particulate matter decreased by 72% between 1989 and 2015 for PM2.5.

Energy - Using renewable energy for public transit

The excessive cost of the Santiago metro for its inhabitants has been the trigger for the social crisis that the country is facing in 2019. However, since 2009, the operating company of the metro « Metro de Santiago » has implemented several measures to reduce consumption: an intelligent lighting system on lines 4 and 4A (estimated reduction of 10% between 2015 and 2018) and a braking energy generation system (estimated reduction of 18% of the metro’s traction energy between 2015 and 2018). In addition, in 2016, an agreement was reached between the El Pelicano solar power plant and the San Juan wind farm to supply the grid with renewable energy. Thus, since 2018, the energy mix of the Santiago metro is 60% renewable electricity, a system that should save 130,000 tons of CO2 each year. If, despite the implementation of ambitious measures, the metro’s electricity consumption increased between 2015 and 2018, this is due to the opening of two new lines.

Also, in 2019, 183 new electric buses are expected to arrive, for a total of more than 400 electric buses in circulation, making it the second best-equipped city in terms of electric buses after China. The Transport Master Plan 2025 calls for the conversion of 10% of the bus fleet to electric and 20% to hybrid by 2020, and 100% of the fleet by 2050.

Finally, the use of soft modes is heavily used in the daily travel of the inhabitants of Santiago. The household-displacement survey, conducted in 2015 by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, reveals that 38.5% of the 18 million daily trips are made on foot or by bicycle. Public transport accounts for 29.1 per cent of the modal share and the use of private vehicles for 28 per cent.

Waste - Municipal initiatives

Residents of the Santiago metropolitan region generate nearly 1.3 kg of waste per person per day, of which only 10 per cent is recycled. In 016, the metropolis of Santiago financed the Santiago REcicla programme, which has three main components: awareness-raising, a study on the establishment of door-to-door collection and the construction of collection points.

However, some municipalities in the metropolis have already set up collection programmes. The municipality of Ñuñoa (195,300 inhabitants) has been a pioneer in the region by launching its weekly door-to-door collection system in 2003, accompanied by an awareness campaign, which will be completed in 2011 with the installation of 800 containers. In 2017,

4,357 tonnes of the 68,000 tonnes of waste produced were recycled, or 6.41%. In 2012, the municipality of Lo Barnechea, with a population of 105,833, has also developed a waste management programme with the initial implementation of 18 mobile collection points to improve territorial coverage. Each point remains in a neighbourhood for 24 hours before changing and returning a week later. This system, combined with partial door-to-door collection, launched in 2017, resulted in the collection of 1,361 tonnes of waste out of 52,000 products, or 2.62% of recovered waste, in the same year.

Energy - Solar energy at the heart of renewable energy development

In 2018, three large photovoltaic parks were opened in the metropolitan region : Santiago Solar, QuilapilUn and Ovejeria. The QuilapilUn plant, the largest in the region, has 350,000 solar panels that generate 243 GWH of energy per year. It already produces enough energy to power 110,000 homes and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 125,000 tons each year. The Santiago Solar plant, installed on 200 hectares, is expected to supply 90,000 households with electricity.

The metropolis of Santiago is also benefiting from the government programme «  Techo Solares ". It has enabled the actual or forthcoming installation of solar panels on 23 public buildings in the capital. The installation of solar panels on the roof of the San Borja Arriarán hospital has reduced the annual consumption of 119 tCO2eq/year, and produces the equivalent of the consumption of 166 households. Once all the projects are completed, the CO2 reduction in the city’s public buildings is expected to be 1,092 tCO2eq/year.

Adaptation - The development of the metropolitan park network

As a result of municipal and metropolitan initiatives, or thanks to the  Plan Chile Area Verde , Santiago is expected to gain 261 hectares of green space between 2016 and 2022.

In 2014, the metropolitan government of Santiago launched the « Cerro Isla » competition to turn one of the many hills in the metropolis into an urban park. The winning project was Cerro Chena, with an increase in the size of the park from 20 hectares to 58 hectares and a reforestation plan of 12,800 native species, carried out in 2016, over an area of 15 hectares.}

The Chile Area Verde Plan financed the construction of seven parks in the metropolis, covering an area of more than 100 hectares, representing a 6% increase in available green space. They were built in the municipalities with the lowest rate of green space per capita. The biggest achievement of this project is the La Hondonada Park, with an area of 26 hectares, built on a former landfill site, divided between two municipalities with the least green spaces per inhabitant, Cerro Navia, 2.1 m²/inhabitant and Pudahuel, 2.5 m²/inhabitant.


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