Engineering Alumnus Mena Carrasco Honored With 2017 Climate & Clean Air Honorary Award

Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy member Marcelo Mena Carrasco (MS 2003, PhD 2007 civil and environmental engineering) has received the 2017 Climate & Clean Air Honorary Award from the Climate & Clean Air Coalition for his work to reduce short-lived climate pollutants and air pollution in Chile.

Mena Carrasco is Minister of Environment for Chile.

In its recognition, the Coalition observed:

"Under Mr. Carrasco’s leadership, Chile created 'Plans of Prevention and Decontamination of Atmospheric Pollution (PPDA).' Implementing these plans has led to significant reductions in air pollution and has made Chile a global leader in actions to improve air quality.

"A hallmark of Mr. Carrasco’s leadership style is his ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. Before studying for his PhD in the United States, Mr. Carrasco pioneered mobile air pollution sampling in Chile, and as an activist in civil society, he pushed the government to do more to address the problem.

"As Minister of Environment, Mr Carrasco embraces the public-private partnerships that regional decontamination planning requires. His tenacity and resourcefulness helped facilitate Chile's drive to establish 14 decontamination plans by the end of 2017 and another six, to reach 20, by the end of 2018.

"The plans have helped achieve a reduction of fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) in 14 cities. Santiago has seen a 71% decrease since 1989. Others – Rancagua (46% since 2012), Chillán (38% since 2012) and Concepción (38% since 2012) – have seen similar improvements.

"In Santiago, there have been 97% fewer episodes of fine particulate pollution (PM10) when data is compared from 1997 to 2016. These efforts include other initiatives such as the prohibition of firewood heaters in greater Santiago, as well as the work under the Santiago Megacities Partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The plan is projected to reduce winter pollution by 24% in Santiago and prevent 718 premature deaths each year.

"The strategy has a high performance (for each peso spent, 115 pesos of benefit are obtained), which aims to reduce emissions by 65% in transport, 93% from homes (cooking and heating), and 20% from industry. 

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Marcelo Mena Carraso