During these weeks of negotiations at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice (Poland), everyone was waiting for the confirmation of a Latin American country as the one in charge of hosting the next conference (COP25). Chile and Costa Rica sounded like the most likely candidates to be the hosts, after Brazil withdrew its offer to chair the COP25 in 2019, arguing budgetary difficulties and the transition process of the newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro.
In a plenary near the end of the Conference, Chile was announced as the country that will be in charge of the titanic mission of presiding over this conference in the Latin American region. Costa Rica, meanwhile, announced that would support Chile and also host a previous conference, known as PreCOP. The challenges for Chile will be enormous, taking into account the critical situation in which the climate negotiations are taking place, since the progress made at COP24 has not been as expected.
During the negotiations, countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait and the US showed disinterest about the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report, which expressed the urgency to increase the ambition targets in order to limit the global warming below 1,5º C, contrasted with the serious impacts of a 2ºC scenario, the latter being the most probable with the current commitments. Meanwhile, Poland (the host country) was awarded the “Fossil of the year”, initiated by Climate Action Network (CAN) as a form of repudiation for the position of President Duda, who affirmed that Poland is capable of using coal for the next 200 years.
Finally, after four years, when UN climate talks has been held across Atlantic, the opportunity is going to the Americas and much more important to a Latin American country. With this, it is expected to accelerate the achievement of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to better integrate regional visions, where the increase of ambition, adaptation to climate change and financing are priorities. In this way, the benefits for the region will be considerable, specially for Chile, because who could become a leader in the matter.
However, it is evident that this Latin American country has yet to face some challenges and difficulties, such as the fact that the current government has yet not signed the Escazú Agreement. This demonstrates a lack of commitment and political will with this regional agreement that seeks to guarantee access to information, community participation and justice in environmental matters. In addition, Chile is expected to assume a high commitment at the diplomatic and logistic levels, as well as to face the financial challenges that implies to hold a conference of this level, where approximate 20,000 people participate for two weeks each year.
The challenges and opportunities are diverse. It will be the task of both Chile and the region to assume them with the importance that they deserve. Organizing a great conference that will achieve the ambition that is needed in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences alerted by scientists could be a great contribution of Chile.