Chile rejects “green” constitution

Chilean lithium deposits [image credit: travelandleisure.com]

By a big majority, the people said no – that’s it. Ideology overload?
– – –
Chile rejected a new constitution on Sunday which, if accepted, would have significantly expanded environmental rights and recognised the urgency of climate action, says Climate Home News.

In a referendum, the South American nation rejected the proposed constitution by 62% to 38% in favour. Voting was mandatory.

As home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a key component of batteries for electric vehicles, Chile is of strategic importance in the global clean energy transition. This comes with social and environmental tradeoffs.

National analysts said the rejection was a “gigantic missed opportunity” to regulate the mining sector in a greener and fairer way. The result leaves Chile with fewer tools to face climate shocks, they said, such as an ongoing 13-year-long megadrought in the central part of the country.

“It’s a gigantic missed opportunity to advance in environmental ethics and a more ecological society,” said former senator Guido Girardi, of the center-left Party for Democracy. Girardi added that this decision must not obstruct climate action going forward.

President Gabriel Boric, who supported the new constitution, said in a statement that the result was an “overwhelming message” of dissatisfaction with the proposal. He plans to push for an improved text, he said.

More than 15 million people were registered to cast a compulsory vote, after a two-year redrafting process. The existing constitution was written in 1980 by Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

The proposed update significantly expanded environmental rights in the country. It placed limits on the mining industry, such as a prohibition on mining near glaciers, protected areas and drought-prone regions.

It declared Chile an “ecological” state, recognized nature as a subject of rights, ordered the state to take actions against the climate crisis and abandoned the term “natural resources” to use “natural common goods” instead.

“There is a very potent influence of the latest climate and environmental science in this text,” said Chilean lawyer, Felipe Pino, from the environmental law NGO FIMA. In contrast, the Pinochet-era text allows for extractive practices such as the privatisation of water sources and mining in sensitive areas.

Full article here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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September 6, 2022 at 11:36AM

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