The Conference of the Parties or COP27 is a United Nations climate conference. This year’s 30th annual event, hosted in Egypt, has gained excessive media attention due to this month’s record temperatures and boycotts by prominent activists.
COP27 is being held from Nov. 6 to 18 in Sharm El-Sheikh, a resort city located on the Red Sea coast. On June 6, The Sharm Green City Project agreement was signed by Egyptian officials and the city was granted $7 million from the Global environment facility with the intention of improving the city’s sustainability for the conference. The city project instituted low-carbon technology and adequate waste management for the city to reduce its carbon footprint while still welcoming tourists.
This November, temperatures scored record highs across the United States, increasing public concern about climate change. A “heat dome” swelled over the United States and caused abnormal, 70+ degrees Fahrenheit weather. In Washington and New York City, temperatures reached up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat dome also led to subtropical storms north of the Caribbean.
On Nov. 8, representatives from developing countries like Pakistan and Rwanda discussed the compensation for the cost of the damaging storms, droughts and other extreme weather caused by climate change. Leaders urged industrialized nations who have emitted half of all heat trapping gasses since 1850, to compensate these poorer countries. French president Emmanuel Macron stated that the United States, and not just European countries, should be held responsible for its gas emissions. “Europeans are paying, we are the only ones paying. Pressure must be put on rich non-European countries,” Macron said. Last year, when the climate conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland, the small nation committed $2.2 million for “loss and damages” which encouraged other nations to take similar action at COP27.
On Nov. 11 President Biden came to the summit to give a speech after his administration announced its beginning to crack down on the oil and gas industry to reduce methane emissions. According to CNN, he was interrupted by a group of four American protesters with an “indigenous war cry” and holding up a banner that stated “People vs. Fossil Fuels.” After the speech ended they were removed from the venue by UN officers. In Egypt, protests are rare and most of the time illegal, but for this international conference, the country has set up a separate “protest zone” away from the conference area. Another protest on Nov. 15 occurred in the venue when a large group of people stormed the building, demanding that wealthy nations pay for the damages that poorer countries have faced due to their contribution to the climate crisis.
Egypt’s strict policies about protesting sparked controversy over holding COP27 in this country in the first place. Climate activist Greta Thunberg has boycotted the conference because of the hypocrisy of the event. She feels that the event only included the powerful and wealthy and “greenwashes” climate action. One of the sponsors of the conference is Coca-Cola, a company that uses 120 billion plastic bottles a year. It’s estimated that Egypt holds 60,000 political prisoners including the pro-democracy activist Alaa Abd Fattah who has been on a hunger strike since April.