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Chile civil society NGOs reject reasons for Piñera decision to cancel hosting APEC summit and COP25 climate summit following social unrest

In a brief statement the UNFCCC announced that COP25 would not be held in Chile as advised by the Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera.

Chilean civil Society climate organisation rejected the decision of the President not to carry out COP 25 in Chile, highlighting that the climate change summit was a great opportunity to relieve the social and environmental problems that affect Chilean people and ecosystems, and to lift some of the leadership lost internationally.

President Piñera indicated that Chile will continue to hold the COP presidency, responsible for shepherding leadership in the UN climate negotiation process for the next year.

Cancellation of the COP has thrown the organisation of the annual UNFCCC climate conference in disarray. With only a month to organise the conference, very few locations would have the ability to stage the event in it’s current timetable. Bonn, Germany, where the UNFCCC is headquartered, is a possibility. The conference could very well be delayed, pushed into 2020.

UN Climate Change Statement on COP25

Statement by UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa:

“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. We are currently exploring alternative hosting options.”

Statement by President Sebastián Piñera suspending APEC summit and COP25

Earlier, the President of Chile made a brief statement from a courtyard of the La Moneda Government Palace:

“Hemos decidido no realizar la Cumbre de la APEC que estaba programa para el mes de noviembre y tampoco la de la COP 25 previsto para diciembre. Sentimos y lamentamos profundamente los problemas y los inconvenientes que esta decisión va a significar tanto para la APEC como para la COP 25, pero como presidente de todos los chilenos tengo que poner los intereses de los chilenos, adelante”.

“Esta ha sido una decisión muy difícil, una decisión que nos causa mucho dolor, porque entendemos perfectamente la importancia de la APEC y de la COP 25 para Chile y para el mundo”, dijo el presidente en una breve declaración en uno de los patios del Palacio de Gobierno.

Google translation:
“We have decided not to hold the APEC Summit that was scheduled for the month of November and neither that of the COP 25 scheduled for December. We are deeply sorry and sorry for the problems and inconveniences that this decision will mean for both APEC and COP 25, but as president of all Chileans I have to put the interests of Chileans first. ”

“This has been a very difficult decision, a decision that causes us a lot of pain, because we fully understand the importance of APEC and COP 25 for Chile and for the world,”

The APEC summit was due to be held on November 16 and 17. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP-25 program was scheduled for December 2 to December 13.

Pinera added “I want to remember the commitments that Chile has assumed. Take better care of our oceans and transform Chile into a carbon neutral country, before 2050.”

Chile Peak Civil Society Climate Groups issue statement

“Throughout this year as @SCAC_Chile We have been working to raise the Social Summit for Climate Action which is a space parallel to the #COP25 born from citizenship and for citizenship ” said Isabella Villanueva president of @CEUS_Chile (Network of Students, technicians and Sustainability Professionals) at the press conference.

“We call on organizations and citizens to continue discussing these issues and continue to position that the social crisis we are experiencing in Chile is also an environmental crisis (…) We call for continue fighting on all fronts “

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The Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática issued the following statement in Spanish and Englsh. English version below:

Santiago, October 30, 2019

From the Civil Society for Climate Action we reject the decision of President Sebastián Piñera not to carry out COP 25 in Chile. This important summit on climate change was a great opportunity to relieve the social and environmental problems that affect many inhabitants and areas of the national territory, and to lift some of the leadership lost internationally by subtracting from relevant and necessary agreements such as the signing of the Escazú Agreement and the Migration Pact.

From our platform we always called for COP 25 to be carried out in a context of full democracy, with conditions for democratic dialogue and real citizen participation, that is why we are still committed to this instance and although the national authority maintains its erratic behavior, we will maintain the efforts we have put to raise the Climate Action Social Summit, a citizen instance that will act in parallel to COP 25, independent of the country in which it is carried out.

We are convinced, and we will continue working to make our government see that the social crisis is also an ecological crisis. Chile has been «growing» for many years at the expense of the most vulnerable people and the environment, forcing entire communities to bear the burden of the badly called development. The sacrificel zones, the communities that do not have water for human consumption or the production of their land, the salmon farms that affect the development of artisanal fisheries and pollute the oceans, the threats and murders of environmental defenders, are just some of the cases that deepen this crisis.

We are concerned that when the government cancels this international instance, it is renouncing to respond to the legitimate social demands that have been expressed in recent weeks, and that require structural level solutions, such as the creation of a constituent assembly to change the current constitution elaborated in dictatorship, by one in which citizens feel represented.

On the other hand, it is necessary to remember that, despite this unfortunate decision, Chile remains as the incoming presidency of the COP, so as country we continue to have the responsibility for this institution to meet its objectives. Increasing climate ambition and radically transforming our way of life, to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 ° C, remains a priority. It is of utmost urgency to understand that the processes that are being managed through the COP, goes beyond the relationship with the local reality, but with the future of the whole humanity.

This unilateral decision by the president cannot delay global negotiations to protect life and ecosystems. We are already facing the consequences of the climate crisis, and those who endure them are those who suffer all the injustices of the current model, and therefore it is extremely urgent to take measures according to the size of the catastrophe.

We call on the government to adopt solutions that will lead us to overcome the moment we live as a country, we need structural reforms that at least end with the extractivist model, make water a human right ensuring its priority use for consumption and maintenance of ecosystems, put an end to the Sacrifice Zones, and the Escazu Agreement signed and ratified.

Civil Society for Climate Action

Previously, on October 29 Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática joined the civil society call for respect of human rights and demand that COP25 occurr in the context of full democracy in Chile. They rejected an invitation to the Presidential Palace sent to a few environmental organisations. Read the statement (Spanish only)

Civil por la Acción Climática, with 150 member organisations in Chile, raised as a minimum condition, the progress and commitment of the government on the following issues:

  • End the slaughter areas immediately with the closure of the coal companies that operate in violation of obsolete human rights and the closure of the others by 2030
  • Face the water crisis with reforms to the Water Code, glacier protection and access to water as a human right and public good.
  • Signature and ratification of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean, better known as the Escazú Agreement.
  • Withdrawal from Congress of legal initiatives that prioritize investment at the expense of the environment.

The statement also stressed that the social crisis is also ecological and that resolving it requires a Constituent Assembly process for a New Constitution in Chile.

Open letter by the Global Climate Action Network (CAN) to the Government of Chile

Global Civil Society Climate Action Network issued the following public statement:

Dear Mr. President,

Climate Action Network (CAN), a network of more than 1400 civil society organisations present in over 130 countries, expresses its deepest concern at the recent heavy-handed response of the Chilean government against the widespread displays of discontent by citizens in the country. We take note that the President has announced that Chile will not be hosting the UNFCCC COP, as well as that the State of Emergency is being revoked. Notwithstanding these developments, we remain concerned with reports of continued intimidation and threats against civilians and we will remain vigilant about the actions of government even in the absence of the COP. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, and colleagues of those who have been denied their right to demonstrate peacefully, been threatened, jailed, abused and lost their lives during this time of crisis.

The demand for climate justice and solidarity is fundamentally about the protection of human rights and a demand for a better quality of life for all. The repressive actions by the government, not only goes against all obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Treaties such as the right to freedom of assembly, but is also alarming since Chile has signed the Geneva Pledge on Human Rights and Climate Action and, in addition, also the Presidency for COP25. The preamble of the Paris Agreement states that “Parties, should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights.” The government’s reaction towards the recent social protests put into question the credibility of the Chilean government to act in accordance with global agreements it has signed and does not inspire confidence in the Chilean government’s ability to provide leadership on this as the COP Presidency.

CAN urges the government of Chile to take immediate, meaningful and sustained measures to ensure that human rights are respected, people are protected and are able to execute their right to assembly and express their grievances without threat. In addition, we call on the government of Chile to release all people who have been unjustly arrested during the protests and to establish an independent investigation into the loss of lives during this period with the view to hold all those responsible to account and take legal measures accordingly. Furthermore, we suggest that the government should find a meaningful and peaceful resolution in the interest of all citizens in Chile through a genuine, participatory and inclusive process.

Over the last 30 years, CAN has actively participated in and contributed to the work of the UNFCCC, promoting climate action and ambition. We recognise that Chile is vulnerable to climate impacts and is particularly affected by droughts, while at the same time the economy of the country is driven by extractive industries to the detriment of social and environmental justice. As an international network of environmental NGO’s, we would want to be reassured that in its implementation of climate action, the Chilean government will respect the call in the preamble of the Paris Agreement as outlined above. We believe that respect for human rights and justice is an important foundation for climate ambition.

While the COP will no longer be held in Chile, we understand that the government will continue to hold the COP Presidency, and so we expect exemplary climate and social leadership from you. In this regard we call on you to do the following:

  • • Immediately sign the Escazú Agreement and submit the Agreement to the National Congress as a matter of urgency, as a clear signal of wanting to protect the rights of environmental defenders and social activists.
  • • Respond positively to the new social pact by engaging all citizens, civil society, workers and other stakeholders in key policy making and planning processes, to achieve a socially, environmentally and economically just transition.
  • • As a first step this can include announcing the closure of the coal power plants currently operating in highly polluted areas and the termination of the “sacrifice zones” as also recognised by the national congress and the Supreme Court.
  • • Advance social justice by ensuring access to clean drinking water, especially in response to the drought.
  • • Commit to implementing the recommendations of the 1.5 IPCC report in the links between sustainable development and climate change that can ensure social justice and environmental sustainability.

We trust that the crisis in Chile will end imminently and that the necessary steps are taken to transition towards a more socially and environmentally just society and economy.

CAN wants to place on record its deep commitment to the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights Treaties and will throw its full weight behind ensuring these principles are manifested fully within the UNFCCC process and by all Parties who are signatories to this Convention. Climate Action Network.


Sources:

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