Chile’s Bachelet defends environment at U.N. General Assembly

SANTIAGO – Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has highlighted the importance of protecting the environment at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly session, stating that it is impossible to close one’s eyes to the devastation of climate change.

Extending condolences to the victims of Mexico’s two recent earthquakes as well as the hurricane victims in the Caribbean, the Chilean head of state said that local challenges must be tied to global needs and responsibilities.

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“We are at a key turning point in humanity’s history,” she said, adding that it was time to take responsibility for climate change and “dare to change our production models.”

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Bachelet, whose term will end this year in November, pointed to various measures the Chilean government has adopted to address the environmental crisis, including a green tax on carbon emissions in its energy sector, steps to protect biodiversity, and stepping up the use of renewable energy nationwide from 6.3 to 17 percent.

She said that 8 million tons of plastic end up in the sea each year, causing irrevocable harm to marine life, and urged plastic bags be banned in coastal cities.