The Government of Chile has announced a new district energy strategy in a bid to improve air quality.
According to official figures, air pollution is responsible for 4,000 premature deaths in the country, costing $8 billion (£6.4bn) per year in medical expenses and lost labour productivity.
The government is working in collaboration with UN Environment and its partners to set out policies and investments required to demonstrate and scale up district heating, considering up to $60 million (£48m) in loans to support the technology.
Temuco, a city of 290,000 inhabitants in Chile’s south, is one of the cities that has signed up to receive support from UN Environment’s District Energy in Cities Initiative, a public-private partnership.
The city’s air quality is said to be the third worst in the country, with dangerous pollutant concentrations five times higher than World Health Organisation standards.
Environment Minister Marcelo Mena said: “Our cities are struggling to tackle air pollution from burning firewood for heating. This is causing an urgent health crisis for our citizens.
“District energy provides the infrastructure to use diverse clean, local energy sources for heating, such as waste heat, geothermal and heat pumps, helping to address air pollution.”
This week London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to launch the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2019 to clean up the city’s toxic air.