SANTIAGO, Chile, November 6, 2019 (ENS) – Violent anti-government protests that have left at least 18 people dead, have cost Chile its role as host country for this year’s 10-day UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) due to start December 2 – the last such conference to take place before 2020 when the Paris Agreement on climate takes effect.

For the last three weeks, the streets of Chile’s capital, Santiago, have rung with the noise of metal pots banging in a call to arms signaling the anger of more than 400,000 protesters who took part in demonstrations across the country. At least 18 people lost their lives as protesters fought with police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.

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Chileans take to the streets to protest wealth inequality in their country. The violent protests force a move of this year’s UN climate conference to Spain. Oct. 21, 2019 (Photo by Fotomovimiento)

The demonstrations to demand better salaries and pensions, and more equal distribution of wealth, began on October 18 over a four percent increase in subway fares in Santiago. They have spread to include Chilean truck and taxi drivers who have brought gridlock to Santiago’s highways in protest of high road tolls.

Some areas of Chile have experienced violent demonstrations, with masked protesters throwing rocks at police, setting fires and looting.

In an attempt to calm the protests, Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera broadcast a televised apology for his government’s failure to resolve these and other long-standing frustrations. But the apology was not effective in calming the most violent unrest Chile has witnessed since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990.

Now, the size of the demonstrations is beginning to diminish, but not before the conference was moved out of Chile to a safer location in Spain.

In Bonn, Germany, the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has accepted the Government of Chile’s proposal to hold COP25 in Madrid, which was made possible by the generous offer by Spain.

Diplomats and negotiators, exhibitors and observers from around the world are changing their plane and hotel reservations to attend COP25 at its new location.

COP25 is now planned for December 2 to 13 at IFEMA – Feria de Madrid, Avda. del Partenón in Madrid, Spain. Click here for more.

The conference will take place under the Presidency of the Government of Chile and will be held with logistical support from the Government of Spain. The President-designate for the conference is Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt.

Schmidt says that despite the change of venue and the protests that triggered it, “Chile maintains its position of climatic concern and sustainable development, including the Alianza for Climate and the carbon neutrality of 2050.”

The UN Climate Change secretariat is now working closely with the Governments of Chile and Spain to organize the conference as efficiently and expeditiously as possible, the UNFCCC says.

Every effort is being made to allow for a large participation and to maintain the scope of exhibition spaces and events as planned. The final list of side events and exhibits will be adjusted to the available space at the venue, the UNFCCC explains.

The UNFCCC secretariat will communicate information as soon as it becomes available. All information on the conference will be published on the website at https://unfccc.int/COP25.

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