COP Series: Chile steps up to fill the void left by Brazil

The COP series will cover content related to the largest climate conference of the year, the Conference of the Parties. This article is a follow up from our 2018 introduction.

Santiago will host COP25 in December after Brazil pulled out

The Conference of the Parties, or COP as it is otherwise known, is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention (UNFCCC), at which a key task is the review of national communications and emission inventories, as well as global decision-making for future plans to limit GHG emissions. The Bonn sessions, held in June in the German town of Bonn, are the secondary annual meetings for related Parties.

In 2018, the 24th edition of COP was held in Katowice, Poland, where work continued from the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. However, since the Paris Agreement, several nations have been critical of the way that the UNFCCC and IPCC operates, and have taken varied measures to slow down global progress to commit to a global temperature rise of no more than 1.5C. The USA signalled its intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2017 during a Trump speech which has since been proven to be mostly filled with incorrect claims. Trump announced the USA’s exit, but the USA would in fact not be able to exit the Paris deal until the day after the 2020 election (November 4th) in accordance with Article 28 of the agreement. Oil and gas producing nations, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are pushing their agenda forward by refusing to accept the 1.5C Report by the IPCC, likely worried that the findings and policy recommendations will hurt their profits moving forward.

After the end of COP24 in Katowice, it was the turn of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) to host the 2019 conference, and the UNFCCC secretariat received a letter from GRULAC presenting an offer from Brazil to host COP25. However, the election of Bolsonaro led Brazil from being a global leader on climate change to a major threat. They withdrew their candidacy to host the conference and embarked on reversing 25 years of climate protection measures, including deforestation.

In December 2018, Chile picked up the slack and submitted their intention to host the conference, a contract which was signed in June 2019. Chile has shown considerable development in the past 5 years on climate issues. Broadly in the world of climate negotiation and planning there are two main fronts for countries on a national scale: climate mitigation and climate adaptation. Mitigation measures and plans focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country to lower the ever increasing global temperature. Adaptation measures focus on how to prepare countries to deal with the inevitable consequences of warming which cannot be avoided. Therefore, when it comes to COP and demonstrating national commitments, mitigation measures hold the prize on the international stage. Although Chile’s efforts were rated as highly insufficient in 2018, meaning that if all governments took similar actions warming could reach 4C, Chile has made several advances in the last year showing the country is moving in the right direction.

Chile has increased its share of renewable energies from 5% to 20%, committed to remove coal from the energy matrix by 2040 and be carbon-neutral by 2050, connected its two energy grids to allow the energy intensive mining industry to use renewable energies, created climate action plans for most sectors, and promoted a new institutional governance framework to ensure that there is regular contact between ministries and a participatory process for policy development processes to help broad buy-in.

As host of COP25, Chile has a large role to play in agenda setting and facilitating a conference which has already been dubbed the “COP of action”, aiming to build on the successful outcome of COP24 in Katowice, at which a package was finalised to set out the essential procedures and mechanisms that will make the Paris agreement operational. We will only know in December if the conference in Santiago is successful, but the recent Bonn sessions have indicated work will successfully continue.


By Brendan Abadie

Published on August 19th 2019

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