As well as wrecking Britain’s economy and having a shorter lifespan than a lettuce, Liz Truss’s premiership will be remembered for dissuading the new King Charles from attending the climate summit of the United Nations Cop27 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from 6 November.
This led to a media discussion on whether Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who survived several lettuce fields, should attend this internationally prestigious event given her strong international reputation and the priority that her government gives to the fight against climate change. Instead, she stays home.
The answer to whether or not to attend can be found indirectly in Naomi Klein’s ‘long read’ article in The Guardian’s Weekly (October 28; first published in The interception): The climate conference whitewashes the police state.
Naomi Klein: an exceptionally talented progressive journalist and internationally acclaimed author
Abd El Fattah
Klein centers his article on a visionary technologist and intellectual, Abd El-Fattah, who became synonymous with the popular uprising that ended Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule.
But under a new, more brutal dictatorship, El-Fattah has been imprisoned almost continuously for the past decade. Today it is one of the most prominent in the country with around 60,000 political prisoners. He is currently on a hunger strike.
Ahead of the summit, El-Fattah wrote a letter to his mother in London (both are also British citizens) about climate change caused by the devastating floods in Pakistan and other global events. Although it contains no critical reference to Egypt, the authorities have refused to pass it on to him.
Abd El-Fattah: imprisoned supporter of climate justice and human rights
Since the 2013 military coup led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in a military coup in 2013, which was bolstered by subsequent sham elections, the ruling regime is considered by human rights organizations to be “…one of the most brutal regimes”. and repressive in the world.
Post-‘blah, blah, blah’
Klein observes that the international delegates at the summit cannot even read much about the current pollution and environmental despoliation in Egypt from the reports of academics or non-governmental organizations. Indeed, a 2019 law requires researchers to obtain government permission before disclosing information considered “political”.
Meanwhile, the “government” hosting the summit has failed to protect the rights of Egyptians against environmental damage caused by corporate interests, including water security, industrial pollution and damage from real estate, tourism development and agro-industry. To top it off is the fact that Coke is a proud sponsor of the event.
Is the COP27 summit likely to champion climate justice, bring green energy, clean up public transport and ensure food sovereignty for those living in poverty? There is about as much chance that Iran’s theocratic government will hold a real conference on women’s rights.
Instead, it is more likely to be a lavish gift to a dictatorship based on a regime of torture. It is difficult to argue convincingly that Egypt is less repressive than Iran.
Prime Minister Ardern should denounce Cop27 as ‘blood, blood, blood’
Greta Thunberg called the last summit (Cop26 in Glasgow) with considerable efficiency “blah, blah, blah”. Building on this, Naomi Klein suggests that Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh be described as “blood, blood, blood”.
If there was a realistic prospect that COP27 would substantially advance climate justice, then if possible Jacinda should attend. Otherwise, it would be more effective and progressive for her to denounce him as “blood, blood, blood”.
Unlike Klein’s characterization, Thunberg’s seems positive, albeit meaningless.
Ian Powell was executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, the professional union representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand, for over 30 years until December 2019. He is now a health systems commentator , labor market and political living in the small river estuary community of Otaihanga (the place by the tide). First published on Political Bytes