By Mary Andrews
Throughout my time at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, I have grown to understand why so many climate justice activists feel exasperated at, and even threatened by the goings on of the conference. I have sat in on panels, taken notes at roundtables, attended press conferences, and even listened to president Biden’s speech, but have not heard promises for real action across any of those events. Instead, I have seen discussions between important people and emotion-filled speeches about what should be done, I have seen students networking and businessmen consulting the wisdom of indigenous folks on their work. This is all well and good but why did we fly across the world to do it? Why did U.S. delegates spew more or less 4.1 metric tons of CO2 to get here, equivalent to being vegetarian for 7.6 years, to carpooling for 4 years, and with our emissions melting about 132.7 square feet of Arctic sea ice. (https://flightfree.org/flight-emissions-calculator)
How many of us calculated our carbon footprints getting to this trip? How many of us considered who we were taking the place of when agreeing to represent our countries as a delegate? How many of us considered ourselves as the problem? How many of us have considered who our damage is affecting? How many of us realized that the voices of those affected, women and non-binary voices from the global south, young people from all over the world, and indigenous communities, are speaking at side events and not in policy negotiations; that they are protesting at the entrance to the conference center while climate “commitments” are being made inside.
During my time in Sharm El-Sheikh, I have been most influenced by those voices through many forms of resistance to the greenwashing, exclusivity, and ignorance of COP27. I want to share their voices now:
A Palestinian climate activist from San Francisco and Gaza, in his own words: https://www.veed.io/view/3aa5e0d8-1fef-4690-86e4-40e91fa13634?source=compressor-sharing PLEASE WATCH!! Before his speech he offered a poem to the crowd which was even more inspiring. We feel his words beating off the air and the crowd was hushed and drawn in. We could feel how urgently he needed us to hear his words and how much pain he has suffered from being silenced. His words, along with all the other voices in this post, have influenced my own poetry as part of my final project for the class we are here with: