There is absolutely nothing passive about the climate crisis.
Trying to gather my thoughts on COP has been a challenging task. Firstly, it goes without saying that I am proud of the YEE team, it’s so much work getting young people into these spaces, so much work to secure funding, to show up and do the work despite all the imposter syndrome these events impose.
Spaces such as COP27 offer a huge amount of inspiration and joy from meeting so many interesting and motivated people. It is so uplifting to find yourself surrounded by people talking as passionately (or more passionately) about your interests day in and day out: a continuous reminder that I have so much to learn. I do believe we need COPs, there needs to be regular moments of international diplomacy and a high-level event like this attests to the importance of its subject (hopefully).
And yet, I felt there was a lot of cognitive dissonance. COP27 was located in a resort town, in hotels each one more luxurious than the next, and the people who weren’t there for COP, were tourists.Each location had pools and fountains, and yet if you look just a few metres over, the land was completely arid with a handful of palm trees lining the streets. The venues were functional but also in some ways a bit extravagant and clearly ‘single-use’. Where will all these COP27 LED signs go once it is all over after two weeks?
The Green Zone, open to all publics and civil society, looked like exactly what you’d imagine a satire of a climate conference to look like: every building lit up in fluorescent lights as sun goes down in Sharm el-Sheikh at 17h30, huge ‘recycled’ art installations, rows and rows of plant corridors whose plants were clearly dead…All of that was for show, which really isn’t the point.
There was also the strange atmosphere of watching what you say in the political climate of Egypt. Mincing your words, when you are meant to be part of civil society, is a bit counterintuitive. It goes without saying that climate justice is social justice and vice-versa, and no climate action can happen at the expense of human rights. Abdel Fattah’s hunger strike has been ongoing since the day before COP started. UNFCCC still ‘approved’ actions and protests and I felt privileged to see my team standing for the rights of environmental defenders.
My concluding thoughts, having gone through an eye-opening week, is that this isn’t a future that is simply occuring, or happening to us. We are actively building this future, in the negotiation rooms, in our personal choices, in the choice of COP Presidency… There is absolutely nothing passive about the climate crisis. Let us hope some of the outcomes of this COP, such as the Loss & Damage fund, will be a step in the right direction, and we will stop sitting idly in rooms filled with AC while the sun gets hotter outside.