Hello from COP27
Then came small but significant political gestures from countries in the Global North.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, which last year became the first country to offer money for loss and damage, pledged an additional $5.7 million, bringing up Scotland’s total pledge to $7.7 million.
Our Coverage of the COP27 Climate Summit
“The Global South still feel that they’re having to come and plead with the rich countries to acknowledge, let alone address the issue of loss and damage,” Ms. Sturgeon said at a New York Times Climate Forward event that I moderated Tuesday morning Egypt time. “There is a real need to make tangible progress.”
Also Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, for the first time endorsed the idea of funding for loss and damage. Then, Ireland pledged $10 million to the cause.
Bitter history has punctuated the talks.
“We were the ones whose blood, sweat and tears financed the industrial revolution,” Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, said, pointedly referring to the legacy of slavery and imperialism. “Are we now to face double jeopardy by having to pay the cost as a result of those greenhouse gases from the industrial revolution? That is fundamentally unfair.”
She called for reform of international development aid, saying it trapped formerly colonized countries into deepening debt, as they try to cope with climate hazards.
Protests have not.
The Egyptian government said it would allow some protests and set up a designated zone for activists, but it’s far from the actual conference and difficult to reach. Meanwhile, the country’s most well-known political prisoner, Alaa Abd El Fattah, who has been in jail for most of the last nine years over his criticism of the country’s authoritarian government, stepped up his hunger strike on Sunday as the conference began. He began refusing water. When his sister, Sanaa Seif, called for his release during a speech at the conference, a ruling party politician, Amr Darwish, shouted at her from the audience. He was escorted out by United Nations security officers.