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UN Confirms Madrid as New Location for Global Climate Meeting

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced Wednesday that he was canceling plans to host the meeting, as well as a summit

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UN, Madrid, Location
FILE - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, pictured during a parliamentary session in September 2019, said Nov. 1 that U.N. confirmation that a climate summit would be held in his country in December was "excellent news." VOA

The United Nations global climate meeting next month will take place in Madrid rather than Chile, which had to bow out as host on short notice, officials said Friday. UN.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said representatives of the body that organizes the annual conference had accepted Spain’s offer to host it in the country’s capital Dec. 2-13.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced Wednesday that he was canceling plans to host the meeting, as well as a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, to focus on restoring security in his country following weeks of protests in which at least a dozen people have died.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s office offered Thursday to step in, sending delegates from around the world scrambling to change their travel plans.

UN, Madrid, Location
FILE – Environmental activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden addresses the Climate Action Summit in the U.N. General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 23, 2019. VOA

Sanchez, who is facing a national election Nov. 10, celebrated Friday’s decision.

“Excellent news: Madrid will host the global climate meeting from Dec. 2-13. Spain is already at work to guarantee its staging of COP25. Our government firmly keeps its commitment to lasting progress and a just ecological transition,” Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

Among those who were planning to attend the conference in Chile was Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose climate protests have helped inspire tens of thousands of mostly young people to take to the streets demanding greater efforts from world leaders.

The teenager made a high-profile crossing from England to New York by sailboat earlier this year and planned to travel overland to Santiago to speak at the meeting. Thunberg refuses to fly because of aviation’s big carbon footprint.

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A little help?

After the move to Madrid was confirmed Friday, Thunberg appealed for help.

“It turns out I’ve traveled half around the world, the wrong way,” she tweeted.

“Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November. … If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful,” she added.

UN, Madrid, Location
U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said representatives of the body that organizes the annual conference had accepted Spain’s offer to host it in the country’s capital Dec. 2-13. Pixabay

Thunberg voiced regret about not being able to visit Central and South America as planned, saying she had been looking forward to doing so.

“But this is of course not about me, my experiences or where I wish to travel. We’re in a climate and ecological emergency,” she said.

The scale of the Madrid conference wasn’t immediately clear. More than 20,000 people attended last year’s climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

The 25th Conference of the Parties, or COP25, is meant to work out some of the remaining unresolved issues on the rules that countries must follow in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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The meetings have also become a venue for countries to announce new initiatives to respond to global warming. (VOA)

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Toxicity in Air Affects Children’s Brain Development: UNICEF

UNICEF has warned that air pollution affects a child's brain development

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Brain Development
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, air pollution toxicity can affect children's brain development. Pixabay

Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore has warned that air pollution toxicity can affect children’s brain development and called for urgent action to deal with the crisis gripping India and South Asia.

“I saw first-hand how children continue to suffer from the dire consequences of air pollution,” Fore, who recently visited India, said on Wednesday.

“The air quality was at a crisis level. You could smell the toxic fog even from behind an air filtration mask,” she added.

Air pollution affects children most severely and its effects continue all their lives because they have smaller lungs, breathe twice as fast as adults and lack immunities, Fore said.

Brain Development
Air pollution damages brain tissue and undermines brain development in babies and young children. Pixabay

She added that it “damages brain tissue and undermines cognitive development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences that can affect their learning outcomes and future potential. There is evidence to suggest that adolescents exposed to higher levels of air pollution are more likely to experience mental health problems”.

“Unicef is calling for urgent action to address this air quality crisis,” affecting 620 million children in South Asia.

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Schools were closed in Delhi till Tuesday because of the severe environmental situation caused by post-harvest burning of stubble in neighbouring states.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Sunday touched 625, considered “severe plus” level. (IANS)