Cop conferences are a big pretend game and 27 will be no different | The Secret Negotiator


Jhe cop is a weird beast – an annual event that everyone claims to hate but no one wants to miss. This year’s Cop is even weirder: it’s at a famous Red Sea resort famed for its warm blue seas and coral reefs, but the dive centers are closed for safety reasons and anyway little of us will have time to dive into the sea.

We will spend all our hours inside a conference center with little daylight and only see the sun when we try to rush in our formal clothes from an air-conditioned hotel to an air-conditioned conference room without being covered in sweat.

With just days to go, we prepare once again to bid farewell to our long-suffering families and endure everyone’s taunts about our burgeoning carbon footprints. (Yes, haha, we know it’s very ironic to be flying around the world as we try to fight climate change. Thanks for the constant reminders.)

We’ve all prepared our “party lines” – the specific word forms and outcomes we’re looking for by the end of COP27. We have scheduled our first major coordination meetings, where major groups like the G77 (all developing countries, including, ironically, some Arab states that are richer than the “rich” countries) come together to strategize negotiations and decide who follows which specific negotiating avenues.

The fact that the meeting is taking place in Egypt, a complete dictatorship where national climate activists have already been locked up, adds a special twist. Apparently a spot has been reserved in the desert, far from Sharm el-Sheikh, where climate activists (but not Greta, who declined to run this year) can march in circles with their banners in the scorching sun, at a safe distance from any real negotiators or media.

We are taking bets on whether high-level delegates who will have speaking slots will dare to mention the plight of Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who has said he will continue his hunger strike throughout COP27. . It will certainly give us food for thought as we line up at the canteens.

The fact that COP27 is taking place in an undemocratic country highlights another of the inconvenient realities of climate negotiations, which is that many developing countries – including those who bleat about how badly they are suffering from “losses and losses “climate induced. damage” – are in fact horribly authoritarian states whose citizens stray off the beaten track at their peril. In a way, the moral issues of climate justice seem a little different when looked at in this way.

But none of us will talk about all that. Cops are a big pretend game: suppose Egypt is a free country, suppose we can still meet the 1.5C target for temperature rise, and suppose this cop will be different from all the others.

I don’t want to be cynical: if the cops didn’t exist, they would have to be invented. They serve a purpose, but not as big as you might think.

  • The secret negotiators are representatives of developing countries involved in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and who will participate in the COP27 climate conference.


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