Climate Conference Chaos

As Chile is rocked by violent protests, the country announces it won't hold COP25. So, for those who care about the future of the planet...now what?

October 31, 2019

10:42 am

The thirteenth of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals is Climate Action. But the coordinated effort to annually convene the world’s foremost climate authorities, activists, and power brokers under one roof took a major hit yesterday, when Chile — the host country for the UN’s annual high-level climate conference, the COP (Conference of the Parties) — announced it was withdrawing as host.

Citing safety concerns and the need to “restore public order” after a series of violent protests had rocked the nation, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera made the announcement that it would no longer host either COP25 (scheduled to begin just a few weeks from now, on December 2) or a major trade conference (the Asia-Pacific trade summit, at which U.S. President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping were expected to attempt to hammer out a truce over their two countries’ trade war).

As reported by the New York Times, “the turmoil in Chile, which began Oct. 18, with protests over a modest hike in the Santiago subway fare, has spiraled into violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators. Looting and arson soon spread across the capital, prompting Mr. Piñera to declare a state of emergency and ask the armed forces to restore order.”

The protests, reports the Guardian, have led to 20 deaths, thousands of arrests, and “sent shock waves across Latin America,” as Chile (after years of authoritarian rule under Pinochet), had emerged as a beacon of democracy in the region.

What is even more bizarre is that COP25 was originally supposed to be hosted by Brazil, but that country’s leader, President Jair Bolsonaro — a climate denier — had previously withdrawn Brazil as host. That is when Chile stepped in as a replacement.

The conference is critical, because (reported Climate Change News) it is “due to finalize critical aspects of the Paris Agreement.”

Reaction to the cancellation was quick, as activists condemned the move and UN leaders scrambled to find an alternative host country.

  • Jamie Henn of climate activist NGO 350.org: “Today: California burns, ExxonMobil is in court for their climate lies, and Chile suspends the #COP25 climate talks because of social unrest. Welcome to the age of climate emergency.”
  • Climate activist Luisa Neubauer: “Now someone cancel the climate crisis too pls. #COP25
  • And WWF tweeted: “It's really important that @UNFCCC announces updated plans for the #COP25 as soon as possible. #ClimateEmergency
  • And climate wunderkind Greta Thunberg, who has been working her way down to Chile from New York since she made a trans-Atlantic sailing from her home country of Sweden in September to avoid the carbon-unfriendly flight, tweeted: “COP25 will not be held in Santiago. My thoughts are with the people of Chile. I’ve been making my way through the North American continent towards Santiago, but as #COP25 will be moved I will now wait until I have more information....”

Less than an hour ago, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa announced: “The Government of #Chile, as incoming #COP25 Presidency, has informed me that they received a generous offer of support from the Government of #Spain to hold the @UN #ClimateChange conference in #Madrid on the same dates as originally planned.”

This is obviously a developing story. Stay tuned to the Earth’s Call Twitter feed for the latest news.

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