A Conference in an instant — This is the UN Climate Conference that was originally supposed to take place in Brazil. After Brazil backed out, Chile stepped up to host the Conference. But massive civil unrest in Chile forced the Government to cancel its plans just a month ahead of the Conference. In the nick of time, Spain volunteered to host, and now, on the eve of the COP, everything is pretty much in place and work crew are putting in the finishing touches. It is no easy task, with 22,000 people are expected over the two-week period. And 2,000 press are registered.

The walls of the metro stop right outside the conference center, Feria de Madrid, are graced with posters highlighting the dramatic impacts of climate change, and advising, “Don’t call it change, call it climate emergency.”

Opening day — Although the Conference is being held in Spain, Chile still holds the presidency of the COP, and that is Carolina Schmidt, Chilean Minister for the Environment. And that is why all the posters for the Conference bear the names of Spain and Chile, and both will address the opening. About 35 leaders, covering all geographic regions, will be attending the Conference and will engage in a roundtable discussion.

Hope versus despair — Several major reports released before the Climate Conference have made it clear that the world is not only off any track to limit climate change to 1.5°C. In fact, it is moving in exactly the opposite direction, as emissions ominously continue to rise. At a press briefing today, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “We are in a deep hole, and we are still digging. Soon it will be too deep to escape.” He also added that “the point of no-return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us.” But the point is that the world can still turn things around and do the things that can get us back on track. “My message is one of hope and not of despair.”