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Opinion | Headed back home reflecting on the 'dark side' of COPs

With COP27 not yet finished and so much 'controversy' to consider, it is too early to debate the outcomes. But there's more to the story than meets the eye. A climate change and sustainability expert explores some of the less-reported aspects of COP27, including its less-than-savory side.

Part of the 36-kilometer long concrete and wire wall encircling the Egyptian tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Part of the 36-kilometer long concrete and wire wall encircling the Egyptian tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. All those entering by road must pass through one of four gates equipped with cameras and scanners. (AN/Lisa Mazzon)

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – As I flew home from COP27, the airplane was quiet and I reflected on my past ten days in Sharm. COP27 was an exciting and overwhelming experience for me. With hundreds of interesting panels going on simultaneously in different pavilions and negotiation rooms, I have suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out). Will these talks lead somewhere? It is too early to tell as negotiations continue this week, but we can expect some outcomes by Sunday.

As it is too early to comment on the outcomes, I want to share my experience at COP and especially what did not convince me. I think the best word to describe it is “controversy." First, the U.N. event is all about inclusivity and making sure that every party is heard: Egypt, the host country, is not exactly a champion in granting peaceful assembly and free speech.

During October, Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of people for calling for anti-government protests during the conference. Ahmed Attar, executive director of the Egyptian Network for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye on Tuesday that up to 1,000 people have been arrested in recent weeks. The arrests targeted journalists, lawyers and mostly young people.

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