Women from Huasco and Others v. the Government of Chile, Ministry of Energy, Environment and Health
Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of Copiapo of Chile
Side A: Women from Huasco and Others
Side B: the Government of Chile, Ministry of Energy, Environment and Health
Core objectives: Whether the continued activity of a thermoelectric power plant in Chile is lawful considering Chile's decarbonization policies.
On November 25, 2021, the residents of Huasco, headed by a group of women, filed a constitutional action against the State of Chile. In their claim, they demand the shutdown of two units of the thermoelectric power plant AES Gener Guacolda. The plaintiffs indicate that while Chile is a party to the Paris Agreement and has recently approved an agreement on the decarbonization of coal-fired power plants, it still decided - without justification - that the closure of Guacolda will only take place in 2040.
The plaintiffs claim that the decision violates their constitutional rights to life, to live in an environment free of pollution, and equality before the law. According to them, the power plant's emissions are affecting the health of residents and neighbors of Huasco. They request a plan from the government to mandate the shutdown of the two units of the thermoelectric power plant and a compensation plan for the harmful emissions.
In its response, the Government of Chile requested the dismissal of the complaint as it argued there was no breach of fundamental rights. The government explained that decarbonization is voluntary for both the executive branch and the private companies. They point out that the Ministry of Energy's Decree No. 50/2020, approving the decarbonization agreement, is an administrative act that is constantly updated. Further, the decision to close the power plant relies on a combination of factors.
On May 2, 2022, the Court of Appeals of Copiapo rejected the claim on procedural grounds. The Court found that the matter in question was beyond its competence, as it involved the exercise of powers belonging to the executive branch. The thermoelectric closure is a complex process involving different factors and not just the executive government.
The plaintiffs brought an appeal before the Supreme Court to review the case.