The annual Conference of Parties climate change talks are underway in Madrid, after a last-minute change of city. The conference was originally meant to be held in Santiago, Chile, but Spain offered to host the talks as Chile's political crisis deepened. Representatives from almost 200 countries, including around 50 heads of state, will be at the 25th COP talks, where negotiators are expected to focus on carbon markets and compensation for loss and damage in developing countries hit hard by climate disasters, the BBC reports. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will be arriving a few days late—the 16-year-old, who refuses to fly, had to hitch a ride on a yacht to Madrid from the US after the venue was changed.
Chile’s environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, is still chairing the two-week conference, the AP reports. She urged countries Monday to set more ambitious goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions ahead of next year's deadline, and said those who refuse to will be on the "wrong side of history." All but a handful of countries have signed and ratified the agreement from the 2015 COP in Paris to try to keep the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels, although the US is withdrawing from the agreement. The Guardian predicts that the US, along with countries including Brazil, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, could be a "disruptor" at the conference. The State Department says the American delegation will work to "level the playing field for US businesses." (Read more climate change stories.)