Friday, November 8, 2019

Santiago walking tour and why just transition important for addressing social crisis and ecological crisis



November 7: Today I did a 3 hour walking tour of Santiago with Marcela from Tour4Tips. They are only running walking tours in the morning due to the social protests.

Many of the museums are closed due to workers being on strike as part of the protest demanding a new constitution and the government address the social crisis with meaningful progress.

Marcela knows her city, and also it’s travails, it’s problems. She is part of the movement for change, but she told people these were her views, to ask other Chilean people. Yes it was a little bit of social and political history combined with culture and food.


She also gave some tried and tested health tips for coping with tear gas: fluoride toothpaste under the eyes and nostrils, chew a lemon, use a spray with dissolved bicarbonate of Soda. Yes anyone who wanders near Plazza Italia and the area around in the afternoon is likely to catch a whiff of tear gas.

The problems of disparity of income was talked about, the privatisation of health, education and water. The cost of transport as a proportion of most incomes. It was a 30 peso fare increase (a second increase this year) that was the lightning rod for this social upheaval, and it was high school students that started the revolt.

During the protests 21 stations were severely burned and around 79 damaged. Much of the traffic light infrastructure in the area around Plaza Italia has been destroyed, resulting in traffic jam chaos.

The Meeting point for the walking tour was outside the Museo Nacional de Belles Artes, which was of course closed. All the museums are closed, well except the museum of memory and Human Rights which I visited earlier in the week.

Then off to see some iconic artwork on street buildings (and graffiti), past a solar powered share bike scheme. There are also o-bikes here, and lime e-scooters.

Over the other side of the Mapucho river to the markets. I have already visited the markets twice previously, but they are far more extensive than I was aware.

Along the way I chatted to Marcela about how low the river was, the privatisation of water in Chile, private dams for water storage for mining and agri-corporations to grow water intensive crops like avocado.

There are similarities with the mismanagement of water in the Darling Basin, the priority given to mining and especially coal, of river and groundwater, allocation of water to water intensive crops.

Of course Chile also has water pollution problems often associated with mining, including copper mining (not pointing any fingers, but BHP owns the biggest copper mine in the world in Chile, the giant Escondida mine).

Always good to explore local markets, but Marcela warned us Chile is part of the global economy and nearly all the clothes and goods are made in China. She advised better to buy second hand clothes, hold clothes share parties among friends.

As part of the tour we were given a fried potato and pumpkin tidbit (sorry I forget the local name) with chile, onion and coriander sauce. Yummy. A little bit later she purchased a bag of fresh strawberries for us to share.

The restaurant part of the market was designed by a Chilean student of Gustov Eiffel. There are similarities with Eiffel’s iconic work. (Read the history)

Then cross the river, more fish market and on to Plaza de Armas, the central square of Santiago. Yes, there is a climate emergency banner hanging from one of the historic buildings.

We had one of the women on the walking tour faint in this square in the 35C temperature (yes I took a reading). A reminder that temperatures are increasing, more extreme heat days that affect heat health.

I believe this temperature, while not a record, is high for this time of year in Santiago. Why we need climate action.

A banner advocating declaration of a climate and ecological emergency hung in the square.



Here is what Climate Action Tracker said in October 2019, before the social crisis openly manifested: Chile’s draft new Paris pledge moves climate action in the right direction: could be close to 2˚C and 1.5˚C pathways


“Chile is one of the first countries to propose an updated and clearly more ambitious Paris Agreement pledge (or “nationally determined contribution” - NDC). This development is a globally important leadership signal as Chile is hosting the Climate Conference in December in a context where, under the Paris Agreement and its enabling decisions, all countries have been requested to improve their NDCs by 2020 so as to close the emissions gap.

“A move by Chile to lead will likely encourage others to present more ambitious contributions as soon as possible. Globally, combined national action is far from being sufficient to meet the agreed global goal under the Paris Agreement of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C and would lead to a warming of around 3.2°C by 2100.

“Chile has released its new draft NDC for consultation. It refers to economy-wide emissions excluding the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector. It provides targets in terms of absolute emissions (97 MtCO2e in 2030), includes a carbon budget between 2020 and 2030 (1 110 and 1 175 MtCO2e between 2020 and 2030) and a peak in emissions by 2027.

“This proposed absolute unconditional NDC target for 2030 is more ambitious than its earlier intensity target submitted in 2015, and could bring Chile’s pledge towards its fair share. The new draft also adds transparency to Chile’s commitment, by moving to an absolute emissions target instead of one based on emissions intensity of GDP, and specifying differential targets for the LULUCF sector.”

Chile has shown than it is no good increasing climate ambition without a just transition. The social crisis needs to be addressed along with the climate and ecological crisis. There needs to be systemic change to address both crises.

Chile has 18 million people slightly less than Australia, yet is showing climate leadership. Where is the leadership from Prime Minister Scott Morrison?

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