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Advancing the Water-Energy-Climate Change Nexus: Focusing on Chile’s Coquimbo Region

Authors: Alexander Nagel*, University of Idaho
Topics: Energy, Environment, Latin America
Keywords: Water, Energy, Climate Change, Latin America, Renewables
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study conducts an analysis of Chile’s renewable energy and water resource landscape, and advances the framework of the water-energy-climate change nexus. A case study of the arid Coquimbo Region serves as a template for understanding the nexus in an area being acutely impacted by each of these issues. Coquimbo hosts substantial wind and solar, as well as hydropower, yet is suffering from increased drought that impacts water-energy balances and economic activities. Chile in general is endowed with significant renewable resources, yet has only recently begun to incorporate these technologies at a significant scale. During the past decade, the national government has established audacious greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals alongside climate change mitigation policies. Notable examples include a 30% reduction in emissions from peak (2007) levels by 2030, and a transition to 70% renewable energy generation by 2050. Such strategies are counterintuitive in Chile based on its history, because this nation has a legacy of among the strictest neoliberal, anti-regulation, and extraction based economic and political models in the world. Therefore, this study analyzes the shifting landscape through a comprehensive assessment of important historical events, legal policies, and socioenvironmental phenomena that have contributed to the co-embeddedness of water, energy and climate change issues. A mixed-methods, multi-scalar approach facilitates the comprehensive inquiry of a country leading the charge on renewables and integrated water resource management in Latin America, yet that continues to be hindered by path dependencies and institutional inertia.

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