COP27 activists push for climate reparations "for the future of youth"

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – Hundreds of activists marched on the UN Climate Change Conference in the Egyptian town of Sharm El-Sheikh on Saturday, demanding reparations for damage caused by climate change in poor regions.

Climate activists and indigenous community members take part in a protest at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Center during the COP27 UN climate conference.
Climate activists and indigenous community members take part in a protest at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Center during the COP27 UN climate conference.  © JOSEPH EID / AFP

In a significant step, delegates of the conference, known as COP27, agreed last week to place the contentious issue of loss and damage funding on the agenda for the first time. Developing countries had long pressed for the creation of a financial mechanism for addressing climate-induced harms in poor countries.

But several developed countries, including the US and Britain, are blocking progress at COP27 on creating a loss and damage facility, the international environment group, Greenpeace, said on Saturday.

The blockers are "consistently using delay tactics" to ensure that no agreement is reached on the issue until at least 2024, it added.

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"All the talk of deadlines and complexities about loss and damage is just code for climate delay, which is disappointing, but not surprising," said Yeb Sano, who heads the Greenpeace delegation to the conference in Egypt.

"How to restore the trust lost between the global north and global south? Five words: loss and damage finance facility," he added.

Earlier this week, UN chief Antonio Guterres told world leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh that getting concrete results on the issue is a "litmus test" of governments’ commitment to COP27 success.

US President Joe Biden also stopped by the summit on Friday, promising US support to "turbocharge" clean energy and avoid "climate hell," yet, not going further on the issue.

COP27: Climate protestors are calling for action to protect "the future of youth"

Climate activists held banners as they protested during the COP27 climate conference.
Climate activists held banners as they protested during the COP27 climate conference.  © JOSEPH EID / AFP

Pro-environment campaigners are turning up the heat on negotiators. Holding signs and banners calling for climate justice, some demonstrators on Saturday chanted, "pay up for loss and damage. No more blah blah, loss and damage finance now."

Others called for an end to fossil fuel funding. Fossil fuels - mainly coal, crude oil and gas - produce large amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has, among other things, sent energy prices soaring, prompting several nations to reconsider their energy policies and reactivate coal-fired power plants.

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Saturday’s protest took place on the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice as the first week of the COP27 conference was coming to an end. It is set to conclude on Friday.

"We want climate justice," said Paola, an Italian participant, as she pointed to the inscription on a banner she held at the protest. "I’m here for the future of youth," she told dpa.

The march was the largest since the climate conference kicked off in the Egyptian resort town on November 6.

Still, it was limited in comparison to a massive rally at COP26 on the Glasgow streets of Scotland last year. There was no explanation from organizers.

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Climate activists protested on Saturday during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt to call on the leaders to honor their commitment to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Climate activists protested on Saturday during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt to call on the leaders to honor their commitment to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius.  © JOSEPH EID / AFP

In the lead-up to COP27, some rights groups voiced concerns about potential curbs on meaningful civil society participation at the two-week conference.

However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the event’s president, told dpa last month that his country was keen to provide civil society groups with a "receptive and comfortable" environment.

Organizers in Egypt, a country where street protests are heavily restricted, designated an area outside the COP27 venue for activists to protest. Many criticized the fact that the protest venue was somewhat far removed from the conference. In previous years, demonstrators were allotted a space in the vicinity.

Also on Saturday, around 200 companies, non-governmental organizations, and celebrities called on the leaders at the COP27 to honor their commitment to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius. Among them were some firms that have been subject to harsh criticism for their damaging impacts to the environment, such as Amazon, Nestlé, and Microsoft.

The group joined renowned climate researchers and UN representatives in a written appeal for governments to implement radical changes to mitigate global warming and prevent the earth from reaching a dangerous tipping point, at which point it will see the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

The climate talks in Egypt mark their return to Africa after six years. The COP22 was in Morocco in 2016.

The COP27 conference is taking place following natural disasters including floods, heatwaves, and droughts, which have taken a huge toll on the lives and livelihoods of individuals in the US and across the globe.

Cover photo: JOSEPH EID / AFP

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