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Gonzalo Muñoz Is Championing Climate Action at COP25

Extract from an article by Good Point’s David Labi published in BMW Foundation’s magazine Twenty Thirty.

For this year’s UN climate conference COP25, the Chilean president selected BMW Foundation Responsible Leader Gonzalo Muñoz for the position of “High-Level Climate Champion.” In this interview, he spoke about his dreams and hopes for the event.

COP25 had to move from Chile to Spain. What did that mean for your work as High-Level Champion?

Gonzalo Muñoz: Chile is going through a crisis, which prevented it from being able to remain host of the COP25. We had to shift to Spain, and that’s how we have been able to start on time, thanks to the generosity and collaboration of the Spanish government and people. They managed an extraordinary achievement in creating the necessary infrastructure on time. We still have all the elements to make this a success. This is in itself an example of support and collaboration between nations, and underlines not just the importance of alliance and multilateralism, but also the potential it has to solve complex situations. This is also highly relevant in how it can apply to sustainable advancement and development for the whole world.

“If Chile can push the sustainability agenda, it shows how small countries can put themselves at the service of the global agenda.”

Gonzalo Muñoz

What’s the importance of your role, and what are your hopes for it?

Gonzalo Muñoz: The role is all about working to realize agreements made by the governments, in this case the Paris Agreement. Then, conveying the sense of urgency from the UN Panel of Experts that we must move much more quickly towards carbon neutrality. Now is the opportunity to connect how people and consumers interact with each other and with the market. My role is to make clearer what needs to be done and to accelerate everything towards that goal of carbon neutrality.

Chile is one of the world’s most socially unequal countries. Are protesters even bothered about climate issues right now?

Gonzalo Muñoz: The situation in Chile highlights that social issues are integrally part of the world of climate action. That should always guide our negotiations and activities. Our demands have an ever greater relevance for the positive impact they can have, not just for the Chilean people but for all the world. We hope the COP will create a lot of reflection and direct impact.

Why was it important for Chile to step forward and host the COP?

Gonzalo Muñoz: If Chile can push the sustainability agenda, it shows how small countries can put themselves at the service of the global agenda. That’s the great mandate. We can’t just leave this in the hands of the big multinationals and the big powers of the world, but the moment has arrived when all of us have a role to fulfill, and we should all put ourselves at the service of the climate agenda and mobilize action.

What about all the actors who are not prepared to change how they do things?

Gonzalo Muñoz: My belief today is that, if I gather all the businessmen of Chile and ask them, “How much are you worried about the climate crisis, and how many of you are ready to advance on climate action?,” the great majority would say that they’re worried and that they want to be part of the solution. Without any doubt. There is still a fundamental resistance when it comes to companies that have trouble understanding the situation or that are afraid of change… as anyone could be. Some are quick to understand and some aren’t. But just because people are uncomfortable doesn’t mean the crisis doesn’t exist. And if they don’t act they will be left behind.

What is COP?

COP stands for “Conference of Parties.” This is related to an international environmental treaty adopted in 1992, whose official name is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The original framework sets non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, but the yearly conference has developed various “protocols” on top of the original agreements. One of the most famous was the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, which established legally binding obligations for reducing carbon emissions. Each year, the participating countries and territories (now 197 in number) send leaders and negotiators to discuss and shape a coordinated global response to our climate emergency. This year is the 25th COP, hence COP25. Around 25,000 people were expected to descend on the talks. It was originally supposed to take place in Brazil, then it was moved to Chile, and finally happened in Spain.