U.N. seeks new host for climate talks after Chile withdraws

LONDON (Reuters) - The United Nations is seeking a new host for this year’s round of climate talks in December after Chile withdrew as raging street protests grip the South American country.

FILE PHOTO - Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa gives a speech during the Women4Climate conference in Mexico City, Mexico February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

The talks, called COP25, were scheduled to be held in Santiago, Chile, from Dec. 2-13, but protests over inequality have left 18 people dead and ground the city to a halt at times.

They are aimed at fleshing out the details of the implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement climate pact, amid calls for urgency from environmental groups and climate protesters.

“Earlier today, I was informed of the decision by the Government of Chile not to host COP25 in view of the difficult situation that the country is undergoing,” U.N. Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement.

“We are currently exploring alternative hosting options,” she added.

The so-called Conference of the Parties (COP) is the formal meeting of parties to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They are usually held annually and the first one was held in 1995.

This is the first time that a nation has pulled out of hosting the meeting with just a month to go. Brazil withdrew its candidacy for hosting COP25 in 2018, citing fiscal and budgetary constraints.

A UNFCCC spokesman said the aim was to keep the conference in December but that might not be possible with just over a month to go and many venues booked.

Germany’s environment secretary, Jochen Flasbarth, tweeted that his government was in contact with Poland, which currently holds the COP presidency.

A spokesman at Poland’s environment ministry said: “It is too early to say now in what direction it will go.”

According to the UNFCCC website, the COP meets in Bonn, Germany, the seat of the secretariat, unless a party offers to host.

As the presidency of the COP rotates among Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.

Last year, the conference was held in Poland and the year before that in Bonn, on behalf of host Fiji.

At the end of 2020, it is scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. The Paris Agreement was negotiated at COP21 in Paris, France, in 2015.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; additional reporting by Megan Rowling and Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker