The annual climate change conference have been thrown to uncertainty this year with Chile announcing on Wednesday that it would not be able to host the meeting in view of the ongoing protests in the country.
With just about a month to go for the start of the December 2-13 meeting in Santiago, COP25 (25th edition of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) is almost certain to be postponed. The UN Climate Change said it was exploring alternative options to host the event.
If it is not held in December, this would be the first time that no COP could be held in a calendar year since these meetings started in 1995.
The annual climate conference, held toward the year-end, takes decisions related to global response to climate change. COP21 in Paris in 2015 delivered the Paris Agreement, a new international arrangement to fight climate change. In the subsequent years since then, the countries have been negotiating to finalise the rules that will govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement that will become effective once the 1997 Kyoto Protocol comes to an end next year.
The location of this conference is rotated every year in different regions of the world. This year it was the turn of South America to host the event.
Chile has been witnessing largescale demonstrations that started with protests against suburban train fare hike two weeks ago. It quickly developed into a mass movement demanding greater equality and better public services, and a change in dictatorship-era Constitution.
But it was also a reluctant host right from the start. It agreed to host it after much persuasion from UN Climate Change, since no one else in the region wanted to do it either. The host is usually decided almost two years in advance, to give the city time to organise an event that witnesses participation of over 20,000 delegates. Several side events, including protest walks and demonstrations, also take place alongside the conference, so the city has make preparations for those as well.
In the case of COP25, however, the host not decided till almost the end of COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland last year. It was a toss-up between Chile and Costa Rica. Chile, being the host of year-long meetings of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year, tried to wriggle out saying it had host the APEC leaders’ summit in November and therefore it could not prepare itself for another large event in December. Costa Rica was not too keen either. The host city incurs huge expenditure on the event, and not all of it is reimbursed.
In 2017, Fiji was the host but the conference was held in Bonn, the headquarters of UN Climate Change, under Fijian presidency. Fiji said it did not have the resources to organise an event of this scale. It was one of the reasons why the UN Climate Change was not very keen on Costa Rica’s candidature, because it could have meant a repeat of the 2017 conference. Interestingly, even UN Climate Change does not want to host it in Bonn every year.
Richer countries have generally shied away from hosting this event. The United States has never hosted the conference and neither has Australia or many other countries in western Europe. UK will host it for the first time next year, in Glasgow. Poland, on the other hand, has hosted it four times, and Morocco twice.
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