Spain’s offer to host this year’s UN climate talks has been approved, the international organisation said Friday, with Madrid set to be the venue after Chile pulled out due to ongoing protests in the country.
“We are pleased to announce the COP Bureau has agreed that COP25 will take place from 2-13 December in Madrid, Spain,” UN climate agency executive secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement, confirming that the originally scheduled dates remain unchanged.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Thursday said Spain had stepped in with “a generous offer” to take over organising the talks at short notice, with Chile set to remain COP25 president.
Experts say the move will likely present some logistical issues, including securing enough hotel rooms for delegates, who will cover the cost of the event, and whether visas for thousands of delegates from dozens of countries can be approved in time.
Alexander Saier, a spokesman for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Retuers that the Spanish government would help expedite the issuance of visas and set up an agency to help organise the travel and accommodations of the roughly 25,000 people expected to attend.
“It is more important that the conference takes place, politically. I think it would have been not a good sign if the conference would have been cancelled or postponed,” he added.
The exact venue in Madrid has not been announced, but according to Climate Tracker, the summit will likely be held at Madrid’s IFEMA (Feria de Madrid) convention centre, which is near the main airport and has good transport connections to the city. This was confirmed by Spanish media on Friday.
Pinera on Wednesday withdrew Chile’s offer to host the Dec. 2-13 COP25 summit in Santiago, as well as next month’s APEC meeting, “with much pain” amid a wave of violent riots gripping the country.
Clashes between protesters and security forces, which were sparked earlier this month by a hike in metro fares in Santiago, have spread nationwide, leaving at least 18 people dead and leading the government to declare a state of emergency and impose curfews.
Chile agreed to organise the annual COP summit after previous host Brazil last year withdrew its offer under newly-elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
Government negotiators are targeting the completion of rules under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement at the December meeting, with the issue the only major one still outstanding amongst all elements of the pact’s rulebook.
“We will continue to reinforce the work done with the understanding that social and environmental development go hand in hand,” tweeted Chilean Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, COP25’s president-designate.
The Madrid summit will also take place following Spain’s national election on Nov. 10, which will mark the second time voters go to the polls this year.
Prime Minister Sanchez of the centre-left PSOE failed to form a government in July, triggering next weekend’s ballot.
Both chambers of the Spanish parliament are then scheduled to be re-assembled in early December, during the first week of the COP25 talks.