Groups Protest Against Repression and Climate Inaction at COP27 Summit in Egypt

Democracy Now! is in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the place the COP27 U.N. local weather convention has entered its second week amid protests in opposition to the host authorities’s repression and world leaders’ inaction on the local weather disaster. We converse with Asad Rehman, government director of Conflict on Need and lead spokesperson for the Local weather Justice Coalition, who risked arrest to take part in a local weather justice protest together with tons of of others in Egypt on Saturday. “You possibly can’t have the very individuals burning the planet sitting right here and pretending to be drafting the options to it, and that’s precisely what’s taking place in these local weather negotiations,” says Rehman. He says imprisoned Egyptian British activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah is “half and parcel of our wrestle,” as calls to free El-Fattah proceed after he despatched proof of life in a letter for the primary time since starting a full starvation and water strike final week. We additionally converse with Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, who says the notion that that is an African COP is “a giant misnomer,” because the African delegates really feel largely excluded.

It is a rush transcript. Copy will not be in its ultimate type.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the U.N. local weather summit, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

On Saturday, tons of of protesters marched contained in the convention venue, calling on rich nations to pay reparations for his or her function in inflicting the local weather disaster. The USA is the most important historic emitter of greenhouse fuel emissions. On Friday, President Biden attended the local weather talks in Egypt and pledged to spend $11 billion yearly on worldwide local weather assist.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We’re racing ahead to do our half to avert the “local weather hell” that the U.N. secretary-general so passionately warned about earlier this week. We’re not ignoring harbingers which are already right here. It’s true so many disasters — the local weather disaster is hitting hardest these international locations and communities which have the fewest assets to reply and to get well. That’s why final yr I dedicated to work with our Congress to quadruple U.S. assist to local weather finance and supply $11 billion yearly by 2024, together with $3 billion for adaption.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden was briefly disrupted by a gaggle of youth and Indigenous activists from the US who unfurled a big banner studying “Individuals vs. Fossil Fuels.” Local weather justice activists criticized the US for not doing extra and questioned whether or not Congress would approve even a fraction of Biden’s pledge.

In the meantime, because the U.N. local weather summit enters its second week right here, stress is rising on the Egyptian authorities to launch political prisoners, together with the imprisoned author and technologist, activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Alaa’s sister, Sanaa Seif, led Saturday’s local weather march, the place many chanted “No local weather justice with out human rights.”

To speak about all of this and extra, we’re joined by Asad Rehman, government director of Conflict on Need and lead spokesperson for the Local weather Justice Coalition.

Asad, welcome again to Democracy Now!

ASAD REHMAN: Actual pleasure. And a pleasure to see you in individual.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s nice to see you in individual. That is our first main journey for the reason that pandemic. Asad, this can be a very completely different form of summit, as what’s laid on the desk, not by the states however by civil society, is that human rights and local weather justice have to be thought-about as one. Are you able to speak concerning the becoming a member of of those two particularly in terms of the demand for the discharge of the main political prisoner in Egypt, to not point out hundreds of others which are held, Alaa Abd El-Fattah?

ASAD REHMAN: Properly, for the local weather justice motion, human rights has been an inextricable a part of it. I imply, finally, the battle round local weather disaster is essentially the most primary of proper, the precise to have the ability to dwell and survive and dwell with dignity. However we additionally know that, inside our motion, that as we make calls for, our actions face repression and criminalization. Two environmental defenders are murdered each week all over the world. We all know that criminalization is now happening within the World North with the precise to protest being restricted, in addition to within the World South.

So we got here right here understanding that, in fact, our battle for local weather justice was a battle for human rights. And now we have at all times listened to and responded to the decision of our actions the place the COP takes place as to the problems they wish to increase up, how we are able to finest assist them, how we are able to amplify their voice. And, in fact, the decision to free Alaa has been one which has been very central to local weather justice organizations coming to the COP and clearly elevating our voices right here.

AMY GOODMAN: I imply, there have been quite a few Egyptian activists that didn’t even make it to the COP earlier than they had been imprisoned in Egypt, the place this COP is being held. The importance of this?

ASAD REHMAN: Properly, let’s be life like. The issues we are able to do inside this COP venue, together with the precise to march, are denied to nearly all of Egyptians. They’re denied the precise to affiliation, proper to free speech, proper to arrange, proper to protest. So, once we got here right here, we acknowledged that lots of our actions wouldn’t have the ability to be right here in individual due to repression. The area itself is intentionally chosen to be fairly distant from main inhabitants areas. There are big restrictions, which are, in fact, an enormous safety operation happening throughout the COP, each inside and outdoors. And most of the Egyptian human rights activists and environmental and local weather justice activists, in fact, are already in jail, 60,000 of them in jail. So —

AMY GOODMAN: Greater than the variety of individuals attending this summit —

ASAD REHMAN: Completely.

AMY GOODMAN: — which is tens of hundreds of individuals.

ASAD REHMAN: Completely. So, it was an obligation onto us, those that can attend right here, who could be right here, that we increase the voices of these individuals who had been denied the chance to be right here. Civil society has at all times been the ears and eyes and voice of frontline communities. And there’s no extra frontline group than these people who find themselves behind bars for demanding a greater world, the one which we’re right here combating for.

AMY GOODMAN: Simply earlier than we went to air, Asad, right here at COP27, I spoke to the longtime Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, director of Well being of Mom Earth Basis, concerning the protests right here, each for local weather justice and for human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: You had been on the protest on Saturday. Are you able to speak concerning the significance of that protest?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Properly, this was a really peculiar form of protest, as a result of often we march on the streets of cities, however right here we had been having a protest march inside the confined perimeters of the official COP venue. It was very surreal, and we simply moved over a brief distance. However nonetheless, once more, in a sure sense, it confirmed the resilience of the individuals, as a result of we didn’t wish to legitimize any form of managed march within the metropolis or within the city. So this was crucial.

After which, the calls for had been largely simply denouncing the COP itself as misplaced and broken. The COP is misplaced and broken. And we additionally made very clear that internet zero is a hopeless concept, as a result of simply pushing the — as a result of we’re, ultimately, utilizing arithmetic to resolve the issue after which pushing the burden on the younger individuals to whom the long run belongs. After which we requested for, as an alternative of simply speaking about loss and injury, that what we must be discussing at the moment, due to excessive degradation, is the cost of a local weather debt, which takes care of historic duty in addition to present duty.

AMY GOODMAN: You had been standing within the frontline proper close to Sanaa Seif, who’s the sister of Alaa Abd El-Fattah. Are you able to speak concerning the significance of him in a desert jail whereas this COP goes on, and what the demand was?

NNIMMO BASSEY: Properly, I believe the important thing quick phrase to seize all of it is that there could be no local weather justice with out human rights. That was the slogan, and that actually captures the state of affairs. And we’re very frightened concerning the human rights state of affairs in Egypt and the activists who’re in detention, who’re on starvation strike and who’re simply struggling on the market. And right here we’re discussing as if nothing is occurring, nothing is — as if every part is regular. So, the march having that demand for the discharge of political — of Earth defenders, environmental defenders, of Alaa himself, was very extraordinarily important, actually a lot.

AMY GOODMAN: And there was going to be a human rights convention proper after COP in Cairo. What occurred?

NNIMMO BASSEY: That assembly in Cairo would have proven that there’s an area for dialog within the nation. However simply when activists had been on the point of go to Cairo, to e-book their flight, e-book their lodges, we simply acquired data that the assembly wouldn’t happen as a result of it’s not approved.

AMY GOODMAN: Lastly, that is known as the Africa COP, the African U.N. local weather summit.

NNIMMO BASSEY: It’s a giant misnomer. This isn’t an African COP. Africa is just not right here. The poor people who find themselves struggling floods, droughts and all types of adversarial conditions, they don’t seem to be right here. They’ll’t afford to get right here. They wouldn’t get accreditation. They’ll’t afford the lodging on this metropolis that’s largely for vacationers. It’s a completely unique COP. I imply, the opposite COPs had been unique, however that is tremendous unique. We’re all cordoned right into a peninsula, reduce off from even the nation through which we’re imagined to be. This isn’t an African COP. We’re [inaudible] COP, one other failed COP.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, director of the Well being of Mom Earth Basis, talking about whether or not that is Africa’s COP, as Egypt and different international locations are billing it, although not essentially African international locations. Asad Rehman, when you can speak extra about what meaning, and who’s represented right here?

ASAD REHMAN: Properly, who’s represented right here, we’re informed, is tens of hundreds of individuals represented right here. A few of them are, in fact, civil society, however there was big limitations to individuals with the ability to attend, notably from Egypt itself and from the area, of prices, and so forth. However the majority of this local weather negotiation has turn into a commerce honest. We see company lobbyists. We’re seeing tons of of fossil gasoline lobbyists, lots of them on authorities delegations now. We see huge enterprise right here, saying, “We’re offering the options,” whereas, in fact, strange individuals and the individuals on the frontlines, whether or not they’re in Pakistan, Nigeria or throughout the Horn of Africa, and their actions aren’t bodily right here, which is why human rights is such an necessary a part of what we’ve raised, as a result of — , the case of Alaa is just not about a person. It’s about symbolizing the truth of repression and criminalization and our need that — not simply free Alaa, however free all of them. And once we say the “free all of them,” in fact meaning not simply the Egyptian prisoners, however all of our political prisoners all over the world.

AMY GOODMAN: And in terms of, for instance, Alaa, do you assume the Sisi regime is responding in any manner? I imply, do you assume it’s attainable he will likely be freed, on a starvation strike for the final seven months, now simply finishing a whole starvation quick with out water for the final week?

ASAD REHMAN: Look, the Egyptian presidency thought that this COP could be the one the place they’d, , have the ability to shake palms, signal offers, do all of those background offers, do commerce offers, and would indulge in the truth that, , they had been those that might ship lastly one thing constructive on loss and injury, for instance.

And as an alternative, they’ve been confronted with the truth that we, as civil society, have mentioned, “Maintain on. We’re not permitting enterprise as regular. Truly, we’re not permitting you to bury the voice of the household of Alaa. The decision for ‘free Alaa’ is part and parcel of our wrestle. And we’ve made it.”

So, sure, President Macron, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, all of them got here right here, however all of them did nothing. They left — they didn’t depart with Alaa. They didn’t get consular entry for Alaa. However we, as civil society, have been relentless right here, not solely by way of press conferences [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: And simply to say, consular entry as a result of he’s not solely an Egyptian citizen, however a British citizen, as properly.

ASAD REHMAN: Sure, he’s a twin nationwide. And till this morning, we didn’t even have proof of life. We didn’t — his household didn’t know whether or not he was alive or useless, whether or not he was being force-fed, whether or not he’s — and so forth.

And I believe the stress we’ve been placing right here — the march, the press convention or the fixed letter, the truth that we didn’t permit political leaders to come back right here and ignore the case of Alaa — has made a distinction. We’re now saying it’s week two; the tip purpose is that Alaa leaves earlier than this COP ends.

AMY GOODMAN: So, subsequent yr’s COP is within the United Arab Emirates, the nation with the most important variety of delegates right here. I believe there are a few thousand delegates from the United Arab Emirates. Quite a few them have hyperlinks to fossil gasoline business. I imply, World Witness has discovered that there’s a — that the variety of delegates with hyperlinks to fossil fuels has elevated 25% total from the summit in Glasgow. However with the UAE, it additionally has one of many highest carbon emissions per capita on this planet, to not point out its shameful human rights file, while you have a look at the employees and what has occurred to them, the variety of deaths of employees within the UAE. How do you interpret the choice of the COP to carry subsequent yr in UAE, following this yr in Egypt?

ASAD REHMAN: I believe, fairly rightly, individuals could be completely shocked. Look, civil society have at all times mentioned, , there must be some standards. There must be standards about the place the COP is held. However there must also be standards about who’s invited into this COP. That’s why civil society have requested for a battle of curiosity, to have the ability to say, “Who’re these delegates? What are their pursuits? What hyperlinks have they got with the fossil gasoline business?” You possibly can’t have the very individuals burning the planet sitting right here and pretending to be drafting the options to it. And that’s precisely what’s taking place in these local weather negotiations.

I believe what we’re seeing now, more and more civil society is saying these areas have to be judged on their outcomes and their motion and the way they reply to the truth that we’re in an interconnected disaster of which human rights is a central a part of it. So we’ll be taking that message ahead. We’ll be saying, wherever the COP is held, we will likely be elevating the voice about human rights. As civil society, that’s our dedication. And it received’t simply be throughout the COP; will probably be as much as, throughout and after the COP, as a result of that is the motion that we’re creating, and that is the world that we wish to create, as properly.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about loss and injury. Apparently, Nnimmo Bassey mentioned this U.N. local weather summit is misplaced and broken. However that’s U.N. converse. Clarify what that really means on the bottom in so many international locations all over the world.

ASAD REHMAN: So, once we have a look at the local weather disaster, I might say there are three issues that have to be completed. There may be the cease doing hurt, i.e. cease emitting extra air pollution within the environment. And there, we’ve seen wealthy international locations refusing to do their justifiable share. And we’re heading, in fact, in direction of a warming that might be shut to three levels.

Restore the hurt, which is, in U.N. phrases, adaptation. So, how can we dwell with the truth that we dwell in a warming planet? And that’s adaptation. That’s not simply constructing seawalls. It’s how can we shield our meals manufacturing, how can we assure individuals’s social safety, residing wages. These are all of the resilience that individuals want.

However the third ingredient is you need to pay compensation for the injury you’ve precipitated, proper? And that’s each financial damages, however in fact there are damages that are past placing a value on it — the cultures of individuals, individuals’s lands being misplaced. And loss and injury is the third ingredient of that. And more and more, the much less we do of the primary, the extra we have to do of the third.

And so, the decision right here is that we will need to have a fund on loss and injury. And I hope by the tip of the week, and I hope when ministers arrive right now and we get into the political negotiations, that we are able to bridge that hole.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about Biden’s promise of $11 billion, and the place Biden is correct now, in Bali, Indonesia, with Chinese language President Xi Jinping, what now we have to grasp concerning the U.S., the traditionally, by far, largest greenhouse fuel emitter, and presently China, the most important greenhouse fuel emitter on this planet?

ASAD REHMAN: So, this — I imply, from the US’ perspective, , their line inside these local weather negotiations has at all times been very, quite simple: “Sure, we acknowledge now we have the most important historic duty. We don’t wish to be accountable for the damages we’ve precipitated. We don’t wish to even speak about the truth that we’re essentially the most. We must always begin the clock once more proper from now. And everyone ought to do the identical motion, and everyone must be accountable.” And, in fact, what they imply is also, “You, China and India, you could additionally do what we’re being anticipated to do.”

And, in fact, from China and India’s perspective, it’s “Maintain on. Eighty-three p.c of this emissions is you. Why are you telling us? We’ve solely simply been — not too long ago begun to pollute. Sure, now we have to cut back our emissions, however you scale back them first. You place the cash on the desk to assist the poorer international locations. You reside as much as your liabilities, your duties, your obligations. After which we’ll speak about ours.”

So, there’s a problem happening by way of right here between, in fact, the richest international locations. It’s typically mentioned, , when the US sneezes, the remainder of the world catches a chilly. However when the US refuses to take motion, the remainder of the world burns. And that’s the truth of what we’ve seen, that the US has to dwell as much as its duty of slicing emissions.

Now, President Biden got here right here final week, and he made a speech about local weather change. And, in fact, again dwelling, we’re additionally — the US, identical to the UK and the European Union, is increasing oil and fuel. And that’s precisely why the United Arab Emirates feels so in a position to have a thousand delegates right here, in fossil fuels, as a result of what they’re saying is, “Properly, oil and fuel could be the fuels of the long run.” I imply, it’s unattainable. How mad is that? However that’s as a result of what we’ve seen here’s a new a part of a dialog which is essentially about how can we take away carbon dioxide from the environment, and it’s all about carbon seize and storage, principally defective, unproven applied sciences to permit the fossil gasoline business to proceed as enterprise as regular.

AMY GOODMAN: Properly, we wish to thanks for being with us, Asad, and we hope to come back again to you this week or subsequent, because the U.N. local weather summit wraps up on the finish of the week. We’ll be right here all through. Asad Rehman is government director of Conflict on Need, lead spokesperson for the Local weather Justice Coalition.

Sure, developing, President Biden and Chinese language President Xi Jinping have simply held their first in-person assembly since Biden grew to become president. We’ll get a response. Stick with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Free Leonard Peltier” by Joe Troop at the side of the American Indian Motion, which organized Leonard Peltier’s Stroll to Justice, a 1,100-mile march over two-and-a-half months from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Washington, D.C., that concluded Sunday. Marchers had been calling for the discharge of Peltier, a Native American activist who’s been in jail since 1977.