Chile cancels hosting of COP25 climate summit after two weeks of deadly unrest
Buenos Aires - Chile will no longer host the next global climate change conference in December or the Asia-Pacific summit in November due to ongoing unrest in the country, President Sebastian Pinera said on Wednesday.
Nationwide protests, sparked by metro fare hikes before evolving into more general demonstrations against inequality, have claimed at least 20 lives and led to widespread destruction and looting.
Pinera announced a major cabinet reshuffle on Monday, firing his interior and finance ministers in a bid to stem the protests.
Diplomats had been due to congregate in Santiago for the climate conference from December 2-13.
"Considering the difficult circumstances that our country has experienced in recent weeks, our government has decided not to host the APEC summit in November and the COP 25 in December," Pinera told reporters at La Moneda government palace in the capital.
He said the government must concern itself above all with keeping the peace and enforcing reforms designed to appease the protesters.
The UN Conference of the Parties (COP 25) climate summit is held annually as part of efforts to implement the goals of the Paris climate accord. It took place last year in the Polish city of Katowice, attracting over 20,000 participants.
The United Nations' top official for climate change, Patricia Espinosa, said she had been informed of the Chilean government's decision.
She acknowledged "the difficult situation that the country is undergoing" and said that "alternative hosting options" are being looked into.
Leaders of the 21 countries from the Pacific Rim, where about half of the world's population lives, had also been due to meet in Santiago on November 16-17 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
An estimated 1.2 million people took to the streets of the capital on Friday as part of the recent protest wave. Demonstrations have been dogged by violence and vandalism, and security forces have cracked down heavily on protesters.
The unrest prompted the government to institute a state of emergency for 10 days, which was lifted on Monday.dpa