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Wind turbines outside the village of Curtina, in north-central Uruguay Wind turbines outside the village of Curtina, in north-central Uruguay, January 2015 (photo courtesy of Grant Burrier).

Why Uruguay’s Unprecedented Shift to Clean Energy Is a Model for the World

Thursday, April 2, 2020

In terms of progressive ideas, Uruguay has always punched above its weight. It introduced a free, universal public education system in 1878, 40 years before the United States. Eventually, Uruguay blossomed into one of the most robust social welfare states in Latin America, with the region’s lowest income inequality. It was the first country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana and the second in the region to legalize gay marriage, after Argentina.

This small country of 3.5 million people has also burnished its environmental credentials, conserving native forests, protecting biodiverse areas and striving to be carbon neutral by 2030. Few countries have demonstrated a comparable commitment to reducing emissions. Beyond lowering emissions of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, from livestock and increasing forest coverage to promote greater carbon sequestration, Uruguay has radically transformed its energy grid. ...

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