Chile Pulls Out of Hosting COP25 Following Weeks of Protests
President Sebastián Piñera announced his decision Wednesday following weeks of protests in Chile. He also backed out of hosting the APEC trade summit in November, The Guardian reported.
"This has been a very difficult decision – which has caused us great pain – because we understand perfectly the importance [of the events] for Chile and for the world," Piñera said, according to The Guardian. "When a father has problems, he must always put his family before everything else. Similarly, a president must always put his own countrymen ahead of any other consideration."
After a long assessment process, the Chilean Government has made the painful decision of not to host the Climate Su… https://t.co/IShTxg0AX8— COP25 (@COP25)1572462817.0
The protests in Chile broke out over a 3.7 percent metro fare increase, but have extended beyond that into a general outcry against economic inequality and repression. Piñera first declared a state of emergency and then announced economic reforms, but neither has succeeded in quelling the unrest. On Saturday, around one million people turned out in Santiago for the country's largest peaceful protest since the late 1980s. So far, at least 20 people have died in the demonstrations, 1,132 have been hospitalized and 3,535 have been arrested.
"The citizens have expressed in a strong way their legitimate social demands that require the full attention and all efforts from the Government," COP25 President-designate Carolina Schmidt said in a statement.
WATCH: 1 million people have taken to the streets of Santiago in what is believed to be Chile's largest-ever protest https://t.co/pCSYXm7NdJ— BNO News (@BNO News)1572044387.0
The COP25 summit was scheduled to take place from Dec. 2 to 13, and this is the first time a host country has backed out so close to the start date, BBC News reported.
"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," UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a statement. "We are currently exploring alternative hosting options."
Earlier today, I was informed of the decision by the Government of #Chile not to host #COP25 in view of the difficu… https://t.co/hpBYIvgkLw— Patricia Espinosa C. (@Patricia Espinosa C.)1572448858.0
Espinosa's office was weighing whether to hold the conference elsewhere in December or postpone it until January, The New York Times reported.
Chile was already an alternate location for the COP25 summit. It was originally slated to be hosted by Brazil, but then President-elect Jair Bolsonaro stepped away from hosting in November 2018. The right-wing president said his decision was based on budget constraints, but his chosen foreign minister had called "climate alarmism" a plot by "cultural Marxists," according to BBC News.
Previously, when countries have had to withdraw from hosting talks on the climate crisis, the talks have been held in Bonn, Germany, Climate Home News pointed out. This is where UN Climate Change is based.
"We are in contact with the UN Climate Change secretariat and the Polish Cop24 presidency to discuss the situation," German state environment secretary Jochen Flasbarth said in a Tweet reported by Climate Home News.
Some climate activists suggested the UN take the opportunity to organize a more climate-friendly conference.
"Maybe this should be the first no fly UN Climate meeting," 15-year-old Ugandan Fridays for Future activist Leah Namugerwa tweeted.
Meteorologist and climate communicator Eric Holthaus endorsed her idea.
"Let's decide to make #COP25 a truly low-carbon, global meeting by encouraging participation without air travel," he wrote.
Hey, @UNFCCC, if you're listening: We are in a climate emergency. Let's decide to make #COP25 a truly low-carbon,… https://t.co/gp8nctYYlB— Eric Holthaus (@Eric Holthaus)1572453993.0
The news has disrupted the plans of those who were planning to travel to the summit, by plane or otherwise.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had been making her way around the Americas, without flying, with the goal of reaching Chile in time for the meeting. She said she would pause her travels until she had more information.
COP25 will not be held in Santiago. My thoughts are with the people of Chile. I’ve been making my way through the N… https://t.co/KggkdYs9S4— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1572468935.0
Another group of European school strikers were already crossing the Atlantic by boat to attend the conference when they heard the news, according to The Guardian. They have not yet decided how to proceed.
Sail to the COP statement on cancellation of COP25 Sail to the COP is sailing with 36 young people from Europe to… https://t.co/39y39zBsMy— Sail to the COP (@Sail to the COP)1572466649.0
"Chile is a problematic example of why our current system is not sustainable either ecologically or socially," the group tweeted. "All the crises that are now happening are also a call to pay attention to the ecological crises that the capitalist system is creating."
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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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