Spain has offered to host this year’s UN climate talks in Madrid, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said Thursday, after Chile pulled out due to ongoing protests in the country.
In a televised address, Pinera said he had spoken to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who “made a generous offer” to organise the talks on the same scheduled dates.
“We have shared this information with the highest authorities of the UN and COP25 to ensure that all advances already achieved can be materialised and be implemented in this COP25,” Pinera said.
“[This will] maintain Chile’s presidency of the COP. We can continue advancing with the same force as we have done for so long and achieve the great goals that everyone expects from COP25,” he added.
Local media initially reported that Pinera said the talks will be held in Madrid, but the decision still requires approval by country representatives.
The UN confirmed in a statement Thursday it had received the request, and hoped the COP Bureau would consider the offer as soon as possible. COP24 President Michal Kurtyka of Poland tweeted he had already called for an “urgent” meeting of the bureau to discuss the proposed Madrid host site.
Carbon Pulse understands that the panel may weigh the issue as early as Friday afternoon.
The COP Bureau is a 12-member panel of UN veterans and negotiating facilitators, and is presided by Kurtyka. There are two representatives for each UN region, and the group usually only decides administrative matters.
However, logistical questions remain, including securing enough hotel rooms for delegates, who will pay for the event, and whether visas for thousands of delegates from dozens of countries can be approved in time.
According to Climate Tracker, if approved the summit would 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.
Spanish environment minister Teresa Ribera added the country stood in solidarity with Chilean society, offering to take over as host so that COP25 discussions could proceed normally.
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.
Chileans are protesting what they see as a government and a billionaire president siding with private companies at the expense of the public and the widening gap in living conditions and inequality.
The Chilean government last week vowed to restore order before the two major summits, but other nations were said to be increasingly concerned about sending delegates to a city that remains under siege.
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 targetting 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.
Today’s announcement means Chile would assume the COP presidency from last year’s hosts Poland and ahead of the 2020 talks in Glasgow next November.
A Madrid summit this December would 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 proposed COP25 talks.