COP27 is the annual UN climate conference being held in November 2022. The purpose of this meeting is to facilitate climate action. It is attended by heads of state and other government representatives from around the world, climate activists and representatives of civil society, and business leaders. 

COP27 is being held in Egypt, and like many other organisations and individuals across the globe, Birmingham FoE is concerned about the impact of the Egyptian setting on the effectiveness of the conference as well as about complicity in a grave misrepresentation of Egypt’s extremely poor environmental and human rights records.

Egyptian environmental groups are obstructed by their government as shown in recent investigations by Human Rights Watch. Measures include funding, research and registration restrictions, especially when groups are addressing issues such as water security, industrial pollution and the environmental effects of property development, tourism development and agricultural industries. 

When this suppression of environmental groups is considered within the wider context of human rights, the issues are even more alarming. Naomi Klein has written that COP27 “is going far beyond greenwashing a polluting state – it’s greenwashing a police state”. Egypt has high numbers of political prisoners, and Amnesty International has recently reported on the lack of prisoners’ rights and conditions for political prisoners in the new Badr 3 Prison.

Given the context, it seems unlikely that climate activists, human rights campaigners and representatives of civil society will be able to participate freely in COP27. Human Rights Watch has identified several restrictions of civic space that could be made including on protests outside the designated facility next to the conference centre, reprisals against Egyptian activists after the conference, surveillance of participants and censorship.

Birmingham FoE will be showing our support for climate activists in Egypt and across the world by taking part in the Global Day of Action on 12th November, which is continuing the call to say no! to rising global temperatures, rising energy bills, and the rising cost of living.  We hope you will join us. For information about the Birmingham event please see eventbrite

PS We were pleased to see the level of backlash against the sponsorship of COP27 by Coca-Cola, which has been shown in audit reports produced by Break Free From Plastic to be the world’s worst corporate plastic polluter. 

Written by Emily Taylor