FEASTA’s Delegates to COP-27 have filed these reports filled with their experiences and observations.
You can click on their names here to link to their reports further down the page, or just scroll down. Photo credits are from the delegate who is reporting, unless otherwise specified.
Hania, Pakistan …“being fearless, I realised, is not the absence of fear, but to do what you set out to do despite it…”
Mikaelle, Brazil “[it] was the most artificial conference I’ve ever attended in my life, where everything looked beautiful but nothing was real!”
Amália, Brazil “there are a lot of promises being made, and we can only hope that listening becomes implementing. As youth, we managed to gather almost every youth organization at COP to write a letter to the president, demanding a youth climate change council, which we managed to deliver in person to Lula…” (also see Amalia’s Week 1 report here)
Theresa Rose, India and Ireland, “My hopes are stagnant [for an agreement]. Because the world leaders aren’t listening to the frontline communities…” “…We need not just “better” representation, but *just* representation in our decision-making positions.”
Jessica Dunne, Ireland “However, there was definitely a sense that we have been telling these decision makers the same thing year after year and still little changes…only time will tell if these proposals are put into action.”
Theresa O’Donohoe, Ireland, “Years of empty promises and broken commitments support the claim that COP is a talking shop.”
Arriving in Egypt
The first time I stepped into the conference hall, I was shocked.
There were so many people, rushing from one place to the other, panels going on at different pavilions simultaneously, it was so cold I started shivering, and delegations there for negotiations would walk in packs like wolves, protecting each other with their briefcases, fancy words and walk fast, like sonic.
Backtrack a year earlier, at COP26, I lay in my bed scrolling through pictures of activists at COP, and thought about how I’d never be able to attend a Conference such as this in my lifetime.
As days went on by, it became more and more unclear as to what I thought I was doing there. I was there to fight for climate justice, that much I knew. I had incredible youth activists surrounding me, who were doing hero’s work. But how much I thought I knew, I knew next to nothing. I found myself googling English words that I didn’t know the meaning of, trying to make sense of a sentence someone spoke previously while they had moved on to their fifth sentence, hugging people in the mornings and smiling but feeling completely, utterly drained and a sense of hopelessness I had never felt before. It was as if I had forgotten who I was, what I had overcome in my lifetime to get to a place like this, and the first week was just spending time trying to catch a moment of silence and peace in bathroom stalls. Even if you wanted to cry, there was nowhere you could truly shed tears where someone else could not see you.
But then more than anything else, for the first time in my life, I felt useless.
At some point I had to talk to myself and make her understand that, this was not about me. I was so lost in what I was trying to achieve that I was being pushed wherever the tide took me. For COPs, you must start preparing the moment you get done with a previous COP. You must know not only why you are there, but what you would like to do with that why. And cut yourself some slack. If it is your first time attending, it is okay to try to contribute as much as you can, but to learn as you go as well.
I was filled with fear. Harassed at cop and more, being fearless, I realised, is not the absence of fear, but to do what you set out to do despite it.
There were rare moments I felt happiness at COP-27. How can you be, when the present and future of billions of people is being decided, and you are one of the people attending this conference, that the burden of this present and future is upon the backs of young people, marginalised people, indigenous people, and so many more. It never made sense to me, the quotes that said “rest is resistance!” Or “joy is resistance!” Because when you live in a country that is being so severely affected by the climate crisis, is rest and joy itself not a privilege? At COP-27, I realised how important these two things are. Activism is not sustainable without joy and rest. If you deprive yourself of these two treasures, you are spreading sickness within yourself. And since you are a part of nature, you are then also making nature sick. And I was there to help protect nature, so therefore, I had to protect myself too.
The few moments I did find happiness, were with Nadiya, when I prayed with her for the first time during a COP event. It was peaceful. It was with Rida, when after a whole day at COP, we would sneak out to try all the different fast food chains. With Maria, when I listened to her come up with new ideas for Earth Uprising every other hour, and Razan, who listened to me vent whenever I needed it. With Amber, whose first sentence to me after I met her and we introduced ourselves to each other was, “Hungry?”. With Ayisha, who no matter what, always included you and saw you even when you felt you were invisible, with Fatemah, who spoke so passionately about how the Global Shield was way less than anything Pakistan deserved with such passion that it made me smile and always had snacks in reserve, with Saher, who would hug me and greet me with such love, and Nafeesa, who had fire inside her, and reminded me of who I was at her age and to reignite what I was trying to extinguish. With Alexanderia, who had a billion things to do but would remember something you had mentioned days ago and always follow up, with all the lovely roommates I had and the conversations I would have with them, with the laughs I shared with Sherif and Selma, and all the amazing tips I got from David in our Earth Uprising car rides. With Tessie, who gave me the best hug one can only imagine after meeting someone for the first time after having known each other for three years. With Mohammad, who would remind me of the beauty of Islam simply by his presence. And Ameera, a continent away, always ready to listen and be there for you and so many more of you.
If you saw me at COP-27 looking utterly lost, this was because I was. I have learned though, and if I ever get to attend another COP I will come more prepared InshAllah.
This is more of a personal post than anything else, because I don’t have recordings of any speeches I made or great change I brought about. That’s change though, not extraordinary people doing extraordinary things but many ordinary people coming together to fight for a common cause in many ordinary AND extraordinary ways. That there are people that you will never see in front of a camera but have given nothing short of blood, sweat and tears to this cause. That anything good that comes out of a conference like COP-27, is because of the people that, as Ayisha says, is nature defending itself.
Hania spoke on a panel on November 16 at the EESC/European Youth Forum’s event
“Resource justice and the wellbeing economy: youth calling for systemic solutions to climate change”. Other speakers included Sandrine Dixon (Club of Rome), Anja Fortuna (European Youth Forum), Petros Kokkalis (Member European Parliament), Neza Repanšek (EESC), Sophia Wiegand (Youth representative EESC), Eric Njuguna (Youth Climate Justice), and Emilia Reyes (Equidad). You can see Hania speaking in the video above at 44′, 1:10′ and 1:20′.
Hania – About the Conference
The Conference of the Parties, or COP-27 in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt was the 27th time this United Nations climate change conference was held. And it was historic.
A loss and damage finance facility was agreed upon. This means finance for those countries that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis as a result of the loss and damage they have faced. For example, the loss and damage Pakistan has faced because of the floods and heatwaves this year.
But we need more, and we need it better. The reason why loss and damage is required in the first place (fossil fuels) has not been acknowledged. We must work to solve why the loss and damage is happening, instead of only cleaning up the mess half heartedly after it has occurred.
I have spent the last two weeks at this conference with the constant feeling of dread and doom.
Pakistan, you are my life. I will fight for you until the day I die.
Hania – After Week 1
COP-27 week one is over. This is the first time I am attending this conference, and although for many years of my life I followed along on the media as to what was happening there, to be here in reality is something else entirely.
The fact of the matter is simple, the climate crisis is here and it is wreaking havoc on my country and so many others. In my time here I have witnessed, and concluded, that the people that caused this mess in the first place will not be able to solve it.
Our public servants (I will now forever attempt to stop calling them politicians, because they are our servants) are failing. They know what we need to do, that we needed to do it YESTERDAY, and whatever they have done has been too little, too late.
These past two days I have spent time listening to indigenous people from the Amazon, Ecuador and from Egypt itself. Those who are fighting, and have been fighting on the frontlines for generations. It has been an honour to be in their presence. And it has been painful to feel even an iota of their pain.
Loss and Damage finance facility is on the agenda after decades of advocacy to have it included. Everyday we do not implement this, people die.
I have felt hopeless. But we have no choice but to keep going. When your country drowns, and has the real chance of becoming inhabitable further, you have no choice but to fight. Real change is out here, in our communities, in our families, in our streets, schools and more. The planet will outlive us all. This is a race to ensure the survival of humanity.
Goodbye, and see you next year.
I was a little confused, I was trying to recognize my body within that space, and better understanding the place. We participated in The New York Times, recording interviews with children and adolescents from the global South, recording videos with indigenous leaders about the energy transition.
I followed the final results of the COP, some more focused on the energy transition, I took stock of how the whole experience was and some decisions that caught my attention!
- The final text of COP-27 makes only references to renewable and low-emission energies, something insufficient for science and for the decarbonization of the planet, not placing the main focus of the climate crisis at the center – Fossil fuels. Which gives room for the countries of the global North to continue their sick exploits.
- The COPs are always divided between poor and rich countries and within that there is a huge chasm to reach viable solutions for nations.
- The climate conference closed with the creation of a loss and damage fund for the most vulnerable countries in the world. We cannot talk about Climate Change without putting the people who will be most affected at the center, this fund is not just about money but about life, the lives of billions of people who will be, and who are already being impacted disastrously by climate change, however, the fund will still be taken for discussion at COP28 in Dubai.
- A section on the oceans was included in the final text of the COP. A very important part of the balance of the planet, countries are being called upon to create action plans that involve the oceans in their national goals.
Feasta delegate Nayara, indigenous rights campaigner Vanda Witoto, and Feasta delegates Mikaelle and Amália
This COP was said to be the COP of implementation, there were some important advances but they are not enough, the setbacks and agreements not closed on important issues such as energy and decarbonization left something to be desired, we need to take all of this out of the abstract and from there make these small advances in affirmative policies for civilizations.
The COP in Sharm El Sheikh was the most artificial conference I’ve ever attended in my life, where everything looked beautiful but nothing was real! The illusion of a city that is disconnected from the reality of the country, where they have placed fleets of electric buses powered by solar energy in a place where public bus transport does not even exist, without a plan to reallocate these fleets post-conference to society civil.
Feasta’s Brazilian youth delegates: Nayara, Amália and Mikaelle
Amália’s Week 2 Report:
After the end of COP, it seems a lot of initial hopes were frustrated. The implementation COP has, it seems, been moved to yet another year, and the targets are still nowhere near where they should be.
As much as the recognition of the importance of oceans and the agreement for loss and damage financing mean great steps towards climate action that were taken during this COP, not knowing which countries will be involved in this financing, for example, or including gas as a transition energy showed how behind we still are. All in all, important steps were taken in this COP, but my impression is that loopholes to escape effective measures are still being added wherever possible.
As for Brazil, being able to meet with the new President showed that our new government is open and ready to listen to civil society. That being said, there are a lot of promises being made, and we can only hope that listening becomes implementing. As youth, we managed to gather almost every youth organization at COP to write a letter to the president, demanding a youth climate change council, which we managed to deliver in person to Lula. In any case, this has been a breath of fresh air for Brazilians, and renewed us to keep fighting for our causes.
On Monday, I started the day by meeting with Brazilian youth to discuss a letter we were to write to President Lula, with the demands from Brazilian Youth and climate activists for the next four years. Later, I met with Susana Hancock, the lead scientist at the Arctic Basecamp, an organization which I am involved with. I had a small meeting with her and recorded an interview for a video about women in science. After meeting with her, I met with Mikaelle, and we both prepared for a meeting we had with the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, where I mostly translated for her but also spoke a little bit. The meeting seemed to be okay, and the minister had very general speeches on Norway’s decarbonization, however, he seemed to not have good answers on their green hydrogen investments in Africa and how they would affect the local populations.
After that, Mikaelle and I met up with Nayara to go to a printing shop near the Old Market, to pick up a few supplies.
The next day in the morning, we had a meeting to write the letter to Lula. After the meeting, we spent a while at the Brazilian Civil Society pavilion, where we met Brazilian activists and recorded an interview for a video on green energies. In the afternoon, we worked in the computer center until we had to leave the venue.
We left the venue around 3pm to head to a cocktail party by the SOS Amazônia Fund, a campaign to raise money for indigenous communities in the Amazon, which I helped co create but do not participate in any longer. There, we spent the rest of the day, networking and raising funds.
The next morning we went straight into a meeting to write the letter to Lula. After that meeting, I started an instagram takeover on Meninas na Ciência’s instagram. Meninas na Ciência is a project at my university focused on getting more girls to join STEM careers (as I study Physics, we decided to do a collaboration for the COP). On that day I also recorded an interview with a Brazilian Biologist for them.
After lunch, we met up with other Brazilian youth, and left the COP venue to go to the Old Market to get supplies for an action we wanted to do on the next day.
Lula arriving at the Brazilian Civil Society Hub meeting
The next morning, we woke up the earliest we had any day at the COP to try to get a spot at a meeting with Brazil’s new President – Lula. We arrived at the Brazilian Civil Society Hub, and waited there for a while. I recorded an interview during that time, but soon we were told to go to a meeting room. All of us were able to get into the room, and were present at the Civil Society meeting with the President, where a letter, which we helped compose, was delivered to Lula by the Brazilian youth present – it was handed by one of the speakers, who was a young woman from the organization Engajamundo. Unfortunately, the meeting room was fairly small, so some of us (myself included) had to leave so other people could join the meeting as well.
In the afternoon, I recorded a video for Meninas na Ciência. Later, we all met up for an action we did, where 4 people wore Brazilian soccer shirts, which were dirtied or matted with fake blood, and walked around the COP. It was not an official action, as the people were only wearing the shirts as normal shirts, and walking normally around the venue, and there was no trouble whatsoever. I helped record the action.
Finally, after organizing my things, I did a bit of translation support and started the trip back to Brazil.
Theresa Rose’s report
Theresa Rose, a climate and social justice activist from India and Ireland, was interviewed in The Independent:
“My hopes are stagnant [for an agreement]. Because the world leaders aren’t listening to the frontline communities, they weren’t even present for the speeches.
“Biden himself missed the speeches of island countries of Tuvalu and Vanuatu who are watching their islands disappear. The bigger countries are still looking at the loss and damage part of this conference as charity when it should be historic responsibility for the emissions produced and it should not be led by just moral responsibility but a legal liability.”
Mikaela Loach, Dominique Palmer, Feasta delegate Theresa Rose and Tom A-Olivar
Honestly? It felt just as hollow as last year. This was my second COP, I was no longer the bright-eyed, hopeful trotter I was last year, but rather for me, I knew the space I was entering, I knew what I could hope for…the bare minimum. But the one thing I appreciated this year was the Children & Youth pavilion – a safe space for young people to embrace each other, to rest from tireless hours of pleading for our futures and a place to meet the people you’ve known virtually for years. Apart from that, COP this year was a plea from young people, indigenous communities, frontline communities to our decision-makers to pay up, to keep it at 1.5C and to give a damn about our lands and futures.
Theresa Rose, fellow Feasta delegate Prakash Chaudhuri, and Gokul Rajendran holding an indigenous flag from the Prakash’ community from Gujarat, India
When governments spoke about “climate justice”, it was often followed by one-sided solutions. It took one lens of perspective, rather than seeing the lens of indigenous rights, education, women’s rights. For example, it’s very easy to say we’ll set up renewable energy centres or plant more trees. But more than often, those settlements end up kicking indigenous communities from their homelands. Young people had to create the intersectional climate justice spaces *ourselves* for us to truly feel heard and understood. One specific panel was organised by Mikaela Loach with a group of powerful young activists from all corners of the world [ nearly all women and femme ]. It was there I *finally* heard things like racial justice, gender justice, tribal rights, patriarchy, and colonialism.
For far too long, the Global North countries have been overpowering negotiations. People who have not experienced the depth and gravity of the climate crisis have been “leading” the fight to protect our Mother Earth. But how would they know the pain of watching your land wash away? The pain of losing your friends and family and peoples to the very same “nature” that protects and gives you life? How would they understand the frustration of indigenous tribes who are losing their relatives [nature] to the careless actions of the greedy?
For true climate justice to be achieved, we need to have frontline communities, indigenous communities and young people at the fore front of our decision making. Because they know what it’s like to lose and be at risk of losing everything they know to be home. Only they know and understand the urgency of this crisis. We need not just “better” representation, but *just* representation in our decision-making positions.
COP was an incredibly difficult experience for me. After COP26 I was a lot more skeptical of the wide-eyed speeches of decision makers, knowing that we had heard similar speeches last time and they had not lined up with the mood in the negotiation rooms or the final agreement.
The thing that made COP feel worthwhile despite this was the activists I connected with. Thank God, we were able to protest, and I truly think the demands for Loss and Damage that we yelled at these demonstrations had an impact on the final agreement where perhaps the only win was the dedicated Loss and Damage facility.
Jessica and Theresa Rose were among a group of youth delegates who met Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin
Meeting with Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan was absolutely worthwhile and I’m glad we did so. However, there was definitely a sense that we have been telling these decision makers the same thing year after year and still little changes. We brought two proposals to the Taoiseach and the minister around youth engagement both at the COP and at home, only time will tell if these proposals are put into action.
The moment that put COP into perspective for me was standing at the German pavilion listening to Alaa Abd Al-Fattah’s sister talk about her thoughts on the COP being held in Egypt. She told us that she understood our discomfort, our fear that by attending the event we were cosigning the human rights violations of Egypt. However, she said, it is important that we do come, that we shine a light on these areas and uplift the voices of the people being mistreated.
Our job at these events isn’t to shout the loudest, its to use our privilege to make sure that those who need to get heard. I am proud of my work to do that this COP even if the results from the agreement were less than ideal.
Theresa O’Donohoe’s report
(Reference to “we” includes Martin Vernon)
Ahead of attending the 27th Conference of the Parties, Stop Climate Chaos prepared a briefing document. It consisted of 5 headline recommendations with 16 subheadings.
The headline list:
- Closing the gap in ambition. We are currently on a trajectory to a minimum of 2.5 degree rise in temperature so more must be done to stay on track with the Paris agreement of aiming for no more than 1.5 degree rise.
- Ramp up climate finance for mitigation and adaptation including delivering on the promise of $100 billion climate finance delivery plan promised in 2021.
- Create a finance mechanism for loss and damage.
- A call for Ireland to submit it’s long term strategy and prioritise bold, fast climate action.
- Fossil fuel phase out – a fossil fuel non proliferation treaty.
At COP27 it turned out that some countries did indeed want to roll back on 1.5 and the $100bn funding promise but that was avoided. In the end there was no change in commitment towards fossil fuel phase out and a much celebrated baby step was taken on loss and damage. I’ve no update on Ireland’s LTS.
We arrived at COP27 on the day officially dedicated to finance, Nov 9th. Finance is always a dominant issue at the conference and this year there was a new item on the agenda in the form of “Loss & Damage”. Advocates for L&D have been calling for a finance facility to be established so that countries who have done the least to drive climate breakdown can be reimbursed for their loss and damage. The concept is pretty simple and fairly well supported, possibly because it is the right thing to do given that those most affected by climate breakdown are not the ones to have benefitted from the emissions causing it. It’s also a fact that in some instances the fossil resources used to create the wealth, cause the emissions and plunge nations into climate chaos were stolen from them as colonies. There is absolutely nothing fair about how the climate crisis is playing out.
It takes a couple of days to get your bearings at COP so I knew I would need at least day 1 to get acquainted with the venue. Within days of arriving I was in 10 messaging groups, watching reports from the daily Climate Action Network briefings and more involved in international NGO networking. The CAN messaging groups were very useful as they had an update on the negotiations, a list of side events worth attending and a list of protests.
Before travelling to Egypt I had received a message detailing the colour themes for various demonstrations.
Representatives from a number of Irish NGOs and aid agencies attended the daily briefings and were very involved in CAN. This was very reassuring for me as Feasta were collaborators on the Irish civil society agenda for COP27 including the Stop Climate Chaos briefing. CAN were pushing very hard to get a Loss and Damage Funding Facility, climate justice as well as a commitment to keeping global warming increase to below 1.5.
My self imposed mandate was youth and community activism, awareness and education. I did not need to be heavily involved in observing negotiations or getting bogged down in policy as there were plenty of people doing that. People who are paid to do it. There was also plenty of media reporting. My policy interests are the role of youth and community in climate action and activism so I planned engaging with those themes throughout my time at the conference. My other attribute is protest, specifically to amplify the message of those working to influence the policy and that was what I could add to our repertoire.
I was also the support for Feasta’s youth delegation, not that they needed it. We had youth representatives from Pakistan, India, Brazil and Ireland. This was the deciding factor when faced with the opportunity to visit my daughter in Abu Dhabi enroute to Egypt.
From the outset we had heard stories of flooding in developing nations. The taxi driver en route to the airport in Abu Dhabi was from Pakistan. He was telling us how India and China control the river flow into Pakistan and Bangladesh. The troubling fact was that he was more focused on the political aspect than climate breakdown. India and China have the capacity to flood the countries downstream as well as inflict drought. At the bus stop by our hotel on our very first day we met a representative of ICIMOD, The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. ICIMOD is an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre working on behalf of the people of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). It is based in Kathmandu, Nepal and works on behalf of eight regional member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. There are 1.6 billion people in India dependent upon water from the Himalayas. We met regularly on the bus or at the bus stop on the drive or walking the long driveway to our hotel. ICIMOD had 2 key messages going to COP27:
- Moving mountains: Shifting the understanding of mountain realities from the periphery towards the centre of global climate and environment discourse, and to recognize the HKH as the pulse of the planet – a region that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
- Mountains of opportunity: Mountains of opportunity is a framework to guide decision makers to invest in common solutions to (a) address transboundary climate risks and (b) deliver climate action at scale and with speed. These investments will put in place the building blocks by 2030 for mountain communities to step into a resilient and carbon-neutral world.
Given our conversation with the Pakistani taxi man on our way to Egypt I really hope that the work of ICIMOD is successful in ensuring that politics do not hinder climate action or the understanding of global warming in the region.
It took me a few days into my time in Egypt to realise that something was missing. There were little or no local women, anywhere. Apart from 2 women at my hotel and a few at COP, men held the jobs. We have spent many years discussing the need for women in decision making if we are to address our ecological crisis and sustainable development. Here’s a report on “Changing Laws and Breaking Barriers for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia” and another on women in politics in Egypt.
Solidarity – White Day
On Nov 10th we wore white and joined an action on human rights in solidarity with voices silenced at COP such as environmental defenders, activists and political prisoners. An Egyptian-British activist Alaa Abdel Fattah had been on hunger strike for months and went on to refuse fluids in the early days of COP27. Near the end of my stay in Egypt I met a local man who told me there are at least 60,000 people in jail because of their opinion. He said he is afraid to share anything on social media and that everything the people do is watched. We had been warned early on not to download the official app after someone read the terms and conditions. As it happened the authorities intervened when Abdel Fattah nearly died on Nov 10th, soon after our protest.
Climate Education Coalition
After the protest I attended an event by Earthday.org to launch the Climate Education Coalition. This was the first I had heard of the coalition and I was surprised that Ireland wasn’t involved. I spoke with some of the team and promised to introduce the initiative to my contacts in Ireland. I have since put their office in touch with An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland who run the Green Schools programme. I will do more in time.
That same day I attended a panel at the Youth Pavilion facilitated by Rosalind Skillen discussing the role of the media in climate breakdown. There was interesting insight from the media professionals on the panel as they explained the shifting appetite of the consumer and competition in the media for print/screen space. Interestingly when the audience got involved the conversation came back to what the panel did individually. I was surprised by this and somewhat dismayed. We need to be clear in our focus on the system change – we need collective commitment and I hope that high standards and judgement of individuals are not going to deter potential collaborators.
The main lessons from this workshop was that TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are the current platforms for climate messaging. Martin is great at listening to people’s stories so we decided to do some videos for Tik Tok so that others could hear the heartbreaking realities for so many people. They are available here https://www.tiktok.com/@theresaod23
The next item on my list was to meet up with Feasta’s youth delegation. Needless to say they were hanging out in the corridors of power – by the negotiation rooms and main plenary.
They were organising a human rights action in solidarity with environmental defenders and the oppressed, including Alaa Abdel Fattah. We went along to give our support.
I have to reiterate how amazing the young people are. They were in the thick of it, watching every move, scrutinising every decision, keeping up to date with every important conversation and holding decision makers to account. They completely understand the inequity and the injustice of it all. They know the policy inside and out as well as the politics. They do not accept the excuses, opaque promises or laments of decision makers. They challenge everything. It was not unusual to open a media link and see one of them front and centre. I am delighted that Feasta can support them in their vital work. They are true heroes committing so much of their lives in pursuit of a better world. A world that is being destroyed by their ancestors. It is so unfair.
News also broke on Nov 10th that there were more than 600 fossil fuel delegates at the conference. That fact got plenty of media and political attention.
Flood the COP – Blue Day
Nov 11th was deemed the day to Flood the Cop:
🔴 WE ARE FLOODING THE COP27 🌊
⚠ The big action ⚠
📅 11th November
⏱ 3:30 PM
The Global South has experienced devastating impacts of climate change, including horrific floods in Pakistan and Nigeria. Now we bring the FLOOD to COP27.
We demand rich nations to cancel the financial debts Global South owes and compensate most affected communities for loss and damages caused by the climate crisis.
🗣️ And endless blue wave 🌊 is coming 🗣️
Here are some pics including one where Martin and I were holding the waves. The photos are by Bianca Csenki.
We had heard many stories of flooding and that continued throughout the conference.
● In Trinidad and Tobago the largest river had recently broken its banks for the fourth time in a few months.
● We heard of how a teenager was shot as he ventured further from his town looking for water.
● In Bhutan the fishermen have to live in their boats as their land is flooded.
● There are stronger and more frequent cyclones in Bangladesh. They are focusing on building one sanctuary in the town so that people can retreat there and while they will not lose their lives their homes and crops will be devastated.
● We heard from more people concerned that India and China have control over rivers that countries further downstream depend upon.
On Nov 11 we also attended a press conference, Carbon negative and equity positive by 2035 in California, with Professor Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley, from The Climate Center in California.
Global Protest – Red Day
Saturday 12th started with an action by Fridays For Future Ukraine and MAPA, Most Affected People and Areas, calling for an end to war. The Climate Crisis and Wars share one root: Fossil Fuels. We stood together to relay the message that the only place for Fossil Fuels has to be in the history books with Imperialism and colonialism. I live in Lisdoonvarna where the number of Ukrainian refugees is more than the original population of the village at the start of 2022. Between asylum seekers and refugees the population has approximately tripled since January 2018. They are all welcome and supported by our community as well as the government however the situation is indicative of things to come as climate migration worsens.
The previous day I had attended a meeting where a speaker from Ukraine claimed that the war had led directly to emissions of 33 million tons of greenhouse gases. Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s environmental protection minister later stated “Russia has turned our natural reserves into a military base. Russia is doing everything to shorten our and your horizons. Because of the war, we will have to do even more to overcome the climate crisis,” We met some young people directly affected.
Following the action in solidarity with Ukraine and MAPA we joined the march inside the COP for the global day of action. Marches were happening all over the world. Due to Egypts oppressive regime we were limited to a relatively small space within the venue, at the discretion of the UNFCCC.
The UNFCCC had identified a handful of spaces within the venue that could be used for protest. Their permission was necessary beforehand. Here are some images (credit: Bianca Csenki).
We sprinted to the event “Climate Justice in Action: Solutions for enhancing adaptation and responding to loss & damage” on Saturday 12th. It was co-hosted by the Government of Ireland and Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders. The panel consisted of:
● Mary Robinson, Chair of the Elders
● Constance Okollet, Community Activist, Uganda
● Colm Brophy, Minister of State, Ireland
● Tina Steege, Climate Envoy, Marshall Islands
All week Mary Robinson had been calling out the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists, the resistance by wealthy countries to deliver on their promises and the oppression of protest by this year’s hosts. She has great appreciation for activists.The three things she wanted to see come from COP27 were the establishment of a loss and damage fund, a materialisation of adaptation finance which should also be doubled and governments to be more ambitious cutting their emissions. She wants to see the fossil fuel subsidies of $1.8 trillion, annually, stopped.
Minister Colm Brophy, junior minister responsible for Irish overseas aid, had been very affected by his recent visit to Africa. He spoke of his harrowing visit to the Horn of Africa where he witnessed a baby dying. He also urged world leaders to pay their dues.
Osukuru United Women’s Network chair and Ugandan farmer, Constance Okollett said: “Give us the money before we die… let us put words into action”. She identified Cop as a talking shop while people were dying. She too put an emphasis on African, especially women and children.
Tina Steege spoke about the impact of climate breakdown on the Marshall Islands. The sea is claiming their land and the only way for them to go is up. The estimated cost of which is $62 billion. Climate breakdown means that the people of the marshall Islands are losing their homes, their land and their culture.
Mary Robinson mentioned how disappointed she was that COP27 was prohibitive for activists, wishing there were more young people and women attending. I was sitting in the front row directly across from her and was very tempted to stand up with the banner “Listen to African Voices” that I had under my arm from the march we had just left.
Pressure was on COP to deliver Loss and Damage and the EU was waking up to the call. “The EU appears to be starting to listen to some of the demands from developing countries, while the US, New Zealand, Norway and COP31 host hopefuls Australia, among others, are the most visible blockers.
Delegation with Minister Ryan
As part of the Irish Civil Society Delegation we met Ireland’s Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan on Nov 14th. Space was limited to 20 and time was short at 30 mins. I had a list of topics which was easy to whittle down as others, more knowledgeable on the topics, were there to take them on. Keeping 1.5 alive and a foss and damage fund were the most pressing issues. The fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty was also discussed as was standards in advertising. Replacing GDP with different metrics that include wellbeing was raised as was a call for Ireland to stop subsidising fossil fuels.
Activism and public participation were on my agenda as well as the use of gas in stand alone power plants for data centres. I questioned the fact that Ireland is a member of Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, BOGA, while happily accepting planning applications for massive stand alone gas fired power plants to run data centres. I also shared my new information about lithium being extracted from seawater which also seemed to be news to others, including the minister, who also happens to have remit over prospecting licences. I asked that Ireland prepare a plan for the COP26 initiative Action for Climate Empowerment, ACE https://unfccc.int/news/cop26-launched-a-decade-of-action-for-climate-empowerment
The day beforehand we had received the following message and I decided to read it to the minister:
“Fridays for Future, Trinity College Dublin & Extinction Rebellion Ireland would kindly ask you to raise below demands with Minister Eamon Ryan. We held a COP27 protest last week and we think some of those demands are immediately achievable:
1.- Permanent display of Climate Clocks on landmark buildings in all Irish cities
2.- Ireland to sign Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
3.- Establish Climate Mental Health Council: prevention, detection and free treatment
4.- Codify Ecocide as a crime. Create and implement Future Generations Act.
5.- Ireland transitions to a wellbeing economy, immediate “Doughnut Economics” model to be implemented
6.- Ireland to Exit Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) & phase out fossil fuel subsidies
7.- Mandatory Climate Education for all bureaucrats, and all educational institutions
8.- Implementation of 30% Marine Protected Areas and just transition for fisher people
9.- Just transition to a Plant Based Diet. Adopt Plant Based Treaty. Support farmers transition.”
The following day we began the process of a collaborative statement to give to the Irish delegation.
This was my contribution:
Action for Civil Empowerment and Civil Society
The Glasgow pact invites countries to put in place a plan for ACE, Action for Civil Empowerment. The six topics of ACE are education, training, public awareness, public participation, access to information and international cooperation.
Ireland is doing well at ACE and we feel it would be useful to collate our current actions as a basis for a national ACE plan. This is a worthy action insofar as it will identify what’s being done in Ireland within the ACE framework, ensure there’s a joined up plan that will traverse governments and offer an opportunity to cooperate internationally in sharing our work and learning from others. This could be done in conjunction with an academic institution.
Action for Civil Empowerment and Civil Society
The world population hit 8 billion on Nov 15th 2022 while it was ACE and Civil Society day at COP. This was my day!
The presidency hosts the official events for the thematic days. I attended the introductory plenary and briefing update at 10am. As they hold the presidency this event was hosted by an Egyption diplomat who introduced the panel of 4 men and 2 women, in that order. The first speaker had vast experience of the UNFCCC. He was extremely supportive of the role civil society and activism plays. He stated that if it weren’t for civil society sounding the alarm 30 years previously the UNFCCC would not exist in its present form. Despite the dissenters and perceived lack of credibility, people had persevered until the world was listening and engaging.
I was dismayed by the imbalance of the panel and for some reason I timed the speakers. All were given 7 minutes to speak. The only people to stick to that request were the women who spoke for 7 and 6 mins. One of the men went on for 15 minutes. Counting gender allocations is not something I do regularly so something must have irked me but I have no idea what.
The second panel was more diverse but similarly uninspiring. I heard that 69% of Egyptians were unaware of climate change.
I found myself wandering around looking for interesting “unofficial” events and landed back at the Earthday.org education hub pavilion. They had an event “Advancing the Glasgow work programme on ACE”.
Under the Glasgow work plan countries are invited to devise a plan for ACE. As of yet Ireland has failed to do so. This workshop, based in experience in the previous year, was a great insight into the steps a country should take when doing theirs.
First and foremost there must be capacity building at government level.
Nov 16th “Blood on your hands” was our last action before leaving COP27.
🩸 10:30 TOMORROW – BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS IF 1.5 DIES 🩸
As the narrative shifts to abandoning 1.5, we need to bring the focus onto 1.5. The alternative is unimaginable death and destruction, predominantly in the Global South.
That’s why we’re planning a powerful action with strong visuals. Here are the details:
📍 After the entrance, in the food court
🙋♂️ Just bring yourself. We have the rest!
This is UN approved and not branded to any one organisation!
Feasta’s youth representative from Pakistan, Hania Imran, spoke on a panel about resource justice and the wellbeing economy. It was a really interesting panel with great insight into a different way of looking at the economy. I was very impressed by Sandrine Dixon from the Club of Rome. A recording of the event can be found at the end of Hania’s report above.
Also on Nov 16th, one year on from its launch, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, BOGA provided an update on its progress and an event to explore the role that a managed phase-out of oil and gas production can play in climate, energy, and economic security, and an orderly, just transition. Washington State, Fiji and Chile were confirmed as joining BOGA with some others announcing their intent to join. BOGA now has 10 core members (Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Portugal, Quebec, Sweden, Wales, and Washington State); two associate members (California and New Zealand); and five “friends of BOGA” (Chile, Fiji, Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg).
The one question BOGA raised for me was if BOGA could do what the COP is failing to do. This also could be asked if the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty happens. While both are initiatives being discussed around the COP that is the only claim it can have on them. It provides a platform for them but no commitment.
Tuvalu and Vanuatu are calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. The 3 aims of the treaty are to prevent the proliferation of coal, oil and gas by ending all new exploration and production; phase-out existing production of fossil fuels in line with the 1.5C global climate goal; fast-track real solutions and a just transition for every worker, community and country. There was a lot of interest and my hope is that it will follow in the footsteps of BOGA. Perhaps this shared vision and commitment from countries collaborating on the peripheries of COP will garner more ambition and commitment than the UNFCCC has.
The tagline to COP27 “Together for Implementation” poses many questions. Why hasn’t implementation happened already? Why has it taken until 27 to focus on implementation? Years of empty promises and broken commitments support the claim that COP is a talking shop.
I have no doubt that the perseverance and constant protests played a major role in Loss and Damage making it onto the agenda and into agreement. The commitment to it in the agreement is abysmal of course but it demonstrated to me that protest works. Had there been more protests would the commitment be stronger? We will have to wait and see.
COP27 facilitated a space for the fossil fuel industry to lobby against climate action and tout for business. Based on the outcomes from the event and a number of announcements in the weeks after COP it looks like it did that well. The incremental change that comes from each COP will not prevent climate catastrophe.
The commitments on the peripheries are what give me hope. The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, fossil fuel non proliferation treaty, civil society collaborating, the determined networks of the youth, the perseverance of the developing nations are all that is good about COP. None of that requires an annual conference that costs as much as the current model both environmentally and economically. The costs mean that countries that can afford to are well represented. The costs mean that women, youth, indigenous people and civil society who are all essential to a democratic decision making process are not adequately represented. The people with the money make it to the conference and they are the people who don’t really want their lives to change as much as is necessary to stop climate breakdown. It’s not hurting them enough. Yet.
This tweet from António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, is a very fitting tribute.
Some comments from Theresa on Loss and Damage will be published shortly, as part of a discussion on the new Loss and Damage fund.
Thank you for reading this far! FEASTA was pleased to support this delegation, thank you to the delegates who made the trip to Egypt, to their supporters and families, and to the IEN and other funding sources that made this possible. There will be more COPs, and we hope to bring underrepresented voices to the table to demand climate justice. Although the COP format is depressing and overwhelming, we, civil society, and people who care about the future and the planet, will bear witness and speak truth to power.
See you at COP-28!
Featured image: Nanq protected area, near Sharm al-Sheikh. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharm_El_Sheikh#/media/File:Nabq_Protected_Area_by_Hatem_Moushir_4.JPG
Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.
Mike Sandler is the current Chair of FEASTA’s Board of Directors and is a climate change and sustainability professional with experience working for nonprofits and government. In 2001 Mike co-founded the Center for Climate Protection based in Sonoma County, California. Inspired by Peter Barnes and Richard Douthwaite, he has advocated for revenues from a price on carbon to be returned back to the public as a per capita dividend or share. He actively promotes CapGlobalCarbon and he has written on green monetary reform and basic income, some of which is archived on his author page on HuffPost.