What Egypt’s COP27 means for climate and human rights


What Egypt’s COP27 means for climate and human rights

As the world grapples with escalating environmental and social crises, the UN Conference of the Parties (COP27) stands as a crucial forum for a coordinated and socially just global response. Yet the significance of this landmark conference is being tarnished by the attempt to greenwash its host, Egypt, a police state holding a dismal record on human rights.

Climate crises need to be addressed as social crises. Likewise, defending human rights is an inherent part of defending a liveable planet.

We can’t separate the climate and social struggles. They are interlinked and must be tackled together. As the world becomes more geopolitically volatile, socially unfair and environmentally vulnerable, addressing these issues together emerges as the only way forward to unlock a just and sustainable future for everyone.

Under this premise, the #ClimateOfChange campaign has been pushing through different activities to raise awareness about the social dimension of climate-induced crises, its unequal effects in different parts of the world and the need to demand urgent and holistic action. Almost 60.000 people have already signed our petition demanding climate justice and systemic change.

This year’s UN Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Egypt provides a unique scenario to urge world decision-makers to move from words to action on climate and social justice. However, although it was foreseen as a landmark COP for the Global South, as the first one taking place in Africa after a long time, this summit poses a series of shady issues that cannot be overlooked.

Greenwashing a police state

While thousands of activists will be raising their voices in Egypt during the second week of November, around 60.000 imprisoned Egyptian political activists will remain silenced in the dark of their cells —not far from the COP27 venue.

Since the president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi took office in 2014, Egypt has seen how protesters were massacred in the streets, while thousands of activists and journalists were imprisoned and tortured in police stations and jails all across the country.

Activists, NGO observers and journalists who will legitimately follow COP27 discussions on climate ‘loss and damage’, the main focus of this summit, cannot ignore what el-Sisi’s regime is doing to Egyptians in terms of human and fundamental rights. “Without political freedom, there is no meaningful climate action”, wrote Naomi Klein in The Guardian a week ago.

From the #ClimateOfChange consortium, we would like to highlight our unequivocal support to the Egyptian civil society and our call to the international community not to turn a blind eye to the human rights violations committed by el-Sisi’s police state. We also condemn the unjustified restrictions on the participation of civil society in this convention and the astonishing fact that the world’s top plastic polluter, Coca-cola, will be the official sponsor of COP27. The whole picture behind this COP organisation is truly scandalous.

Climate reparations

Despite the grave circumstances surrounding this COP27, it is set to be one of the most important summits to unlock financial support for those experiencing climate loss and damage.

As Pakistan’s climate minister stressed after the historic flooding in August that submerged a third of its country and affected 33 million people, there  is “a new generation of climate migrants” that deserves climate reparations from industrialised, wealthy, polluting countries.

Climate change is the here and the now for 20 million people forced to leave their homes every year and become internally displaced or migrate towards neighbouring countries. Communities and populations in the Global South are already bearing the burden of the worst impacts of climate change (droughts, floods, food crises, water scarcity, climate disasters, etc.) even though when they have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Beyond panic: the reality behind climate migration

The failure of the international community, and in particular the rich Western countries, to assume responsibility for the crisis has led to a global paralysis in terms of climate action. The EU and other rich countries must deliver on their commitments to mobilise $100 billion per year to the Green Fund for those communities and countries most affected by climate change. Such funding must be shared equitably between mitigation and adaptation and must not contribute to increasing the debt of countries in the global south.

While the EU has committed to allocate at least 0.7% of Gross National Income to Official Development Assistance by 2030, it must increase its financial efforts on change adaptation and mitigation for low and middle-income countries. It is crucial that a new funding mechanism to address loss and damage comes out of COP27, to mobilise additional funds from rich countries and polluting companies to help communities exposed beyond their capacity to adapt.

Climate justice: a matter of rights

Climate-induced migrants and young people are the human faces of climate change, as they are the ones who will face its worst effects.

A group of #ClimateOfChange youth ambassadors will be in Egypt to bring our petition demands to EU decision-makers. They will engage with African and Latin American youth representatives on climate adaptation and climate-induced migration challenges, with stress on regional disparities and environmental injustice.


Our call on world leaders is not just to mitigate the social effects of this crisis, but to ensure a better future in which all can thrive. We must accelerate the transition towards a socially and ecologically just well-being economy, abandoning the destructive fixation on constant economic and productivity growth. Instead, it must become regenerative, sustainable, democratic, fair, caring and just from a global and international approach. 

Getting the COP27 right is a chance that can’t be missed. Not only do we must define what our new system should look like, but also how we will get there. A just transition is needed to ensure that the process towards change guarantees basic needs are met and social well-being is provided, for everyone, from Egypt to the EU.

The future we envision is regenerative, democratic and caring. It is fair and just in every way and truly sustainable over the long term, instead of being fabricated in the made-to-look-good videos.

Unless we directly tackle the issues fuelling the fire and stand for what is right, we risk making COP27 a historical failure for humanity. Instead of exercising moral flexibility, international leaders should use the event to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced.

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