Environment

World’s top climate diplomats will head to Madrid for UN talks

Madrid will host the annual United Nations climate jamboree just a few weeks after Chile pulled out of supplying a venue for the meeting because of widespread public unrest in the country.

The United Nations climate change secretariat endorsed Spain's offer to hold the gathering involving more than 15,000 delegates, media and environmentalists starting on Dec. 2. Chile will still chair the two-week conference where some 200 nations are working on a pathway to rein in fossil fuel pollution. The body gave no further details on the re-located event.

It's the second time this year U.N. authorities had to scramble to find a new meeting place. Brazil originally welcomed the gathering, then backed out after President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January.

Moving the event is a major undertaking. Countries that host it usually spend months putting in place the infrastructure needed for a series of parallel discussions where thousands of diplomats discuss hundreds of pages of text.

Climate change has moved to the center of the political agenda in many nations, with wildfires in California this week and freak storms across Europe over the summer highlighting concerns that scientists have voiced for decades.

Scuttling the event would have sapped momentum from a movement after millions protested worldwide within the past few weeks and 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg chided world leaders for not acting forcefully enough to save the planet.

Chile canceled plans to host the conference as riots continue to erupt over economic inequality. That nation is grappling with the driest decade on record, and the government has taken emergency measures to survive an unprecedented drought.

(Freitas Jr. reported from New York, Hodges from London.)

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