U.N. confirms Madrid as new location for climate summit

Preparations for the U.N. climate summit in Santiago, Chile, were halted after Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said his country could not host the event.
(Esteban Felix / Associated Press)

The United Nations’ global climate meeting next month will take place in Madrid after the scheduled host, Chile, canceled on short notice, officials said Friday.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said representatives of the body that organizes the annual conference had accepted Spain’s offer to host it in the country’s capital Dec. 2-13.

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera had announced Wednesday that he was canceling plans to host the meeting, known as COP25, as well as a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, to focus on restoring security in his country following weeks of protests in which at least a dozen people have died.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s office offered Thursday to step in, sending delegates from around the world scrambling to change their travel plans.


Sanchez, who is facing a national election Nov. 10, celebrated Friday’s decision.

“Excellent news: Madrid will host the global climate meeting from Dec. 2-13. Spain is already at work to guarantee its staging of COP25. Our government firmly keeps its commitment to lasting progress and a just ecological transition,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

Among those who were planning to attend the conference in Chile was teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose climate protests have helped inspire tens of thousands of mostly young people to take to the streets demanding greater efforts from world leaders.

Thunberg made a high-profile crossing from England to New York in a sailboat this year and had planned to travel overland to Santiago to speak at the meeting. She refuses to fly because of aviation’s big carbon footprint.


Thunberg was in Los Angeles on Friday, joining students taking part in a school strike to protest inaction on climate change.

After the move to Madrid was confirmed, Thunberg appealed for help.

“It turns out I’ve traveled half around the world, the wrong way,” she tweeted.

“Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November... ,” she added. “If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”


Thunberg voiced regret about not being able to visit Central and South America as planned, saying she had been looking forward to doing so.

“But this is, of course, not about me, my experiences or where I wish to travel. We’re in a climate and ecological emergency,” she said.

It wasn’t immediately clear on what scale the conference would be held in Madrid. Last year’s climate conference in Katowice, Poland, was attended by more than 20,000 people.

The 25th Conference of the Parties, or COP25, is meant to work out some of the remaining unresolved issues on the rules that the affiliated countries have to follow in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The meetings have also become a venue for countries to announce new initiatives to respond to global warming.