Unprecedented domestic unrest has forced Chile to express its inability to host this year’s climate talks — the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP25.
That this comes barely a month before the conference is scheduled to begin – on December 2 – complicates matters for the Secretariat of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, because it takes several months to organise a conference.
That the silver jubilee conference is being passed around is rather ominous for climate action. This being the Latin American countries’ turn to hold the event, it was first picked up by Brazil — but that was before Jair Bolsonaro became the President of the country. Bolsonaro, and his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, are climate deniers; they, like Donald Trump, believe that the concept of ‘climate change science’ is rubbish.
Therefore, the chances of Brazil hosting the COP25 under Bolsonaro’s presidency, were slim.
The question ‘if not Brazil, then who?’ got tossed around for a while, before Costa Rica, the central American country, toyed with the idea of picking up the baton. After all, it was Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat, and the daughter of a former President of the country, who was the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC during the Paris conference (COP21) of December 2015.
But Costa Rica soon gave it up, and instead hosted a ‘pre-COP’ meeting recently.
Chile picked up the thread and for a year, it was assumed that COP25 would be held in Santiago. However violent events which forced the country to declare an Emergency, have put paid to Chile’s ambitions to be the COP host.
Now what? Although the current UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “We are currently exploring alternative hosting options,” it is difficult to see any country stepping in at short notice.
The only city that can, is Bonn, the headquarters of UNFCCC. The rules provide that in the absence of a host, the conferences would be held in Bonn. The 2017 conference, the COP23, was to be hosted by the Pacific island nation of Fiji, but it was held in Bonn.
Climate experts believe that COP25 can only be held in Bonn. If that happens, Europe would host three conferences in a row. COP24 was held in Katowice, Poland and next year’s conference is scheduled to happen in London.