Chile protests make ASU UN delegation change plans

Students booked new tickets to Madrid after Chile canceled its hosting of the event

Nine ASU students were planning to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Chile this December, but after the relocation of the conference due to protests in the country, students had to scramble to rebook flights and housing.

The students were selected to be delegates representing the university at the conference, also known as COP-25.

The same month the delegates were announced, the people of Chile erupted into protests over unequal pay, a new subway fare hike and more. The protests have continued since, resulting in the president of Chile's announcement that the country would cancel its hosting of the conference.

“There isn’t a compromise in Chile right now,” Connor Murphy, an ASU delegate and second year J.D candidate, said. “People were kind of betting it would work itself out and it just didn’t. Everyone was hedging their bets on the idea that it will work out, and that it will blow over.”

Murphy acknowledged the location change was to keep the conference attendees safe.

Spain quickly offered to host the conference in Madrid, and the event will be hosted there during the same time that was scheduled in Chile, December 2-13.

The ASU delegates themselves have found new ways to get to Spain after having already booked flights and an Airbnb in Chile.

Each of the student delegates has had different experiences getting their money back, which has all largely come out of pocket for them. The Airbnb was easily refunded, Murphy said, but the flight tickets refund policy varied for each student based on who they booked with and how long ago they had purchased them.

“Very luckily I had booked my flight the day before, and so I was able to get my full refund,” said Tammy Nguyen, a senior sustainability major and delegate.

Other delegates were not as lucky. Senior sustainability major Hailey Campbell's plane ticket was unable to be refunded, costing her even more money than anticipated, she said. 

“At least one person I know can no longer attend due to the situation," Campbell said. “That was also me up until about a day ago when my mom and my grandparents offered to pay the fees so that I could still go.” 

The delegates who are able to attend are still thrilled to be able to go due to the immense opportunity it provides for their careers. 

READ MORE: ASU students represent Urban Climate Research Center at UN convention

Murphy said he came to law school to become a policy changer, and the conference will still give him the opportunity to watch how that happens at an international level.

Some are less excited about it being in Madrid.

“I thought that it was amazing it was in Chile because it's often thought of a less industrialized place, so therefore the perspective changes in a county more likely to be affected by climate change,” Campbell said. “... I was more excited to attend in Chile just for the perspective alone, but I still think it will be amazing in Spain.”

The delegation all around is still excited for the opportunity.

“As crazy as this whole process has been, I think it’s inspiring,” Murphy said. “Globally everyone is still committed to Climate Change that moving it, and finding a way to make it happen, happened. The conference wasn’t canceled even with the United States withdrawing from (the Paris Agreement). There are still a lot of countries and Americans involved."

Editors note: Connor Murphy previously worked as a reporter for The State Press but did not contribute to the reporting or editing of this story. 


 Reach the reporter at wmyskow@asu.edu and follow @wmyskow on Twitter. 

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