Two opposing forces at COP
I did not have much climate conference experience, but I was privileged enough to get into the main one, COP27, or, as my friend said, ‘the Oscars of climate negotiations’. I expected a lot from COP – read dozens of articles and listened to tons of podcasts about the outlook and challenges for the COP negotiations. 2022 was a year of climate extremes – from heat waves in Europe to droughts in China and divesting floods in Pakistan. The need for climate action has become increasingly obvious, so I was full of expectations. However, the reality has turned out to be different and bitter.
The first thing I learned at COP is that following the negotiations “from the outside” is somewhat easier than being here on the ground, no matter how paradoxical it may sound. Huge distances, hundreds of pavilions, and no breaks between sessions – I needed Hermione’s Time Turner to be in two places at the same time. It was also difficult to follow the progress of negotiations in such an environment when the doors were closed to observers.
The headline of COP27, ‘Together for Implementation’, highlighted the need for joint efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in the global response to the climate crisis. But I got the impression that there were two opposing forces at COP who speak different languages and live in two different bubbles – those who were interested in nothing else but profits and colonising our future and those who truly care about the planet.
Fossil fuels and nuclear lobbyists who came to use the energy crisis as an opportunity to make more money, big companies who came to greenwash their brands, governments that blocked decisions on loss and damage, and side events where speakers gave presentations with serious faces, although half of the audience could not hear their speeches and the other half came to charge their phones or just escape from the heat. At such moments, participation in the COP seems pointless.
However, even in this desert of frustration, there are still islands of hope. I joined a loss and damage climate strike and had an opportunity to speak or even yell from the heart and I met many young climate activists who are so passionate and wholehearted, so I dare to hope that our future is in safe hands.