COP27: No One is Free Until Everyone is Free

Solidarity Statement from Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

This November, the United Nations’ annual climate summit (COP27) will take place in the southern Sinai city of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. As a global network of climate and social justice activists, campaigners, and organizers, the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice (DCJ) stands in solidarity with Egyptian civil society, and with impacted communities and prisoners of conscience– not just in Egypt, but everywhere. 

The hosting of a COP brings concerns around the greenwashing of the regime in power, and we cannot ignore the ongoing and deep-rooted human rights crisis, complex socio-political, economical, and environmental context of the COP host. But it also offers the opportunity to put the spotlight on the country and apply international pressure on the injustices perpetrated by those in power. As all eyes turn to Egypt, the campaigns to Free Alaa and other political prisoners, as well as for civic space to open up in Egypt, gain momentum. Alaa Abdelfattah, a British-Egyptian writer and human rights defender has decided that from 1 November he will escalate his hunger strike (which he started on 2 April 2022) to full hunger strike and from 6 November with the start of COP27 will be starting a water strike. If Alaa is not released, he will die before the end of COP27. International solidarity is core to climate justice as we understand it, as there is no freedom until all are free. We reaffirm our deepest belief that there can be no climate justice without social justice, economic justice, gender justice, racial justice, and more.

Since 2013, civic space in Egypt has been criminalized. The authorities continue to violently target activists, researchers, journalists, women, and LGBTQI+ communities, including with arbitrary detentions in inhumane conditions. Under the current government, thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained without a legal basis, following grossly unfair trials, or solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. We reaffirm our solidarity with all those arbitrarily detained  in Egypt and across the world, and condemn the repression, oppression, disappearances, and murders of environmental and human rights defenders everywhere. In the past decade, an estimated 1733 environmental defenders across the world have been murdered. Every life lost to the struggle for climate justice is one that we mourn and commit to honour, in continuing to resist the neo-liberal, colonial, capitalist, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression. 

As we turn to Egypt, we also stand in solidarity with communities in Egypt and across Africa that are on the frontline of climate impacts and that we know will be excluded from the COP space. We recognize the importance of uplifting the voices that are being kept out of the conference centre, especially those of Sinai communities suffering at the crossroads of environmental impacts، terrorism and violent repression. In North Sinai, environmental impacts are threatening both land and marine ecosystems – from rising temperatures to the degradation of coral reefs and agricultural land – whilst at the same time local communities are being displaced and suffering violent repression under the pretend war against terrorism. 

Yet these communities are being shut out of COP27. We firmly condemn the exclusion of Sinai and other Egyptian communities from COP27, as well as the many other impacted and frontline communities virtually excluded from COP spaces every year due to financial, bureaucratic, and border barriers. The COP is setting the stage to legitimize the expansion of the fossil fuel industry alongside developed country governments and big corporate polluters to gain vast amounts of wealth by riding on the shoulders of communities on the front lines. COP27, as other COPs before, is consolidating an agenda in favor of the big polluters, and will take another step to consolidate structural inequities and accelerate the multiple global crises. In this context, we reaffirm that there can be no meaningful climate negotiations without meaningful participation from the Global South, from impacted and frontline communities, and from global justice movements.

At the same time as COP27 will be held in Egypt and stage the gathering of world leaders and negotiators, it is not only communities in Sinai that continue to suffer from the increasing violence of climate impacts but people everywhere, with the most marginalized – people of color, Indigenous Peoples, communities in the Global South, frontline communities, women and children – hit first and hardest. We stand in solidarity with impacted and frontline communities everywhere and reiterate our demands for urgent and drastic action to justly address the climate crisis.

We want to make it clear that no COP host can use this meeting to greenwash or hide its internal failures, inequities and injustices. Whether or not we attend COP27 in Egypt, we continue to voice our demands for climate justice and social justice, and express our solidarity with those impacted by systems of oppression, from the corridors of COP to our homes and our streets. In the face of repressive and oppressive systems that aim to divide and break us, we are more united and more determined than ever.

The Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice strongly reaffirms its solidarity with Egyptian civil society and prisoners of conscience, and, responding to the call of Egyptian civil society, demands the immediate release of individuals arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to freedom of association, assembly, and expression, and the opening up of civic space in Egypt.