Alwaght- After holding 26 global meetings on climate change, representatives from 200 countries have gathered in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss the future of the Earth that is exposed to natural disasters. Raising awareness about the damages cussed by the climate changes and the risks to the low height regions like small islands are among the topics of the COP2 7 conference.
Compensating the financial damages of the most vulnerable countries against climate change was for the first time on the agenda of the conference. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the highest decision-making body in the United Nations Climate Change Convention, and all countries and participants are present in this convention and hold an annual meeting in one of the member countries in order to find a solution to deal with climate change. The conference was initiated in 1995, but so far it has not achieved significant results. According to a UN report, 2014 to 2022 made the warmest years of the Earth, and this issue is a wake-up call for the world community to think of decide measures to overcome this brewing disaster.
“We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing.... Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising, and our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.... We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech delivered to the meeting.
The Russian war on Ukraine, the energy crisis, and the unfolding inflation are overshadowing the world. Despite holding frequent meetings about reducing greenhouse gases and efforts to deal with global warming, no effective steps have been taken in this field so far, and developed countries have been more guilty than others in this crisis because the highest greenhouse gas production rates belong to these countries and they take no steps for the benefit of the environment because of their interests, and even the heads of countries like China, Japan, Canada, and Australia, which are among the largest producers of greenhouse gases, skip these meetings to escape the responsibilities.
According to previous agreements, the world countries should cut the greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to keep the planet inhabitable.
Shedding light on Egyptian human rights
Although the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting aims to deal with climate change, its side issues have sidelined its main topic. Egypt intends to improve its image on the world stage by holding such an international meeting, but the political situation in this country is untenable and the waves of opposition to the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are increasing. Several Egyptian rights advocacy organizations demanded that the leaders present at the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting address the human rights abuses in country. In this statement, the world leaders are asked to oblige the Egyptian authorities to suspend the execution of the death sentences issued against some activists. The organizations stressed the need for immediate release of all political prisoners and to stop the process of arbitrary arrests targeting the opposition.
Human rights groups believe that Egypt is not qualified to host such an important international meeting due to its human rights situation and closed political environment. Their demands come as since 2014— the year el-Sisi took the power following a military coup toppling the country's first democratically-elected president— the country's political atmosphere has been tightly closed, and many opposition faces, including the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, have all been executed or sentenced to long-term imprisonment— an iron fist rule practically making the political atmosphere closed to any criticism of the government policies.
Arab leaders meet Israeli counterparts again
The Sharm el-Sheikh conference somewhere turned controversial as it brought together representatives from all world countries. Such meetings are an opportunity for bilateral meetings and exchange of opinions between leaders. The Israelis and some Arab officials were no exception and they had chats, though short, on the sidelines of the meeting.
However, a friendly chat of the Tunisian prime minister with the Israeli president while posing for a group photo infuriated Tunisian and Arab users on social media. They condemned the move as “compromising” and demanded explanation by the Tunisian government. The Jordanian king, too, met with the Israeli president and highlighted the need to increase the efforts for fair peace based on the two-state solution. Israeli President Issac Herzog also met the UAE ruler Mohammed bin Zayed and tweeted: “Delighted to meet my friend UAE President HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed at COP27 today.”
Arab countries have been taking steps towards normalizing relations with the Israeli regime in recent years and are working hard to achieve this aim. Such meetings between Arab and Israeli leaders are considered a special privilege for Tel Aviv, and they consider this action to increase their legitimacy among the Arabs. The few seconds of the Israeli president's deliberate chat with the Tunisian prime minister in front of the cameras was also done on this basis to show that the Arab leaders, contrary to domestic public opinion, are eager to interact with the Israelis.
The meetings of the Arab officials with the Israelis in Egypt comes while some of these Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, attended the Arab League summit, which is the largest gathering of Arab leaders, at the ministerial level last week, and their leaders refused to participate in it under false pretenses, because in Algeria-hosted Arab League summit, Palestinian cause was central matter of discussion, and some Arab leaders did not participate in the meeting to avoid making commitments to the Palestinian cause. But the meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh provided a good opportunity for the Arab leaders to seat with the Israeli occupation leaders and accelerate the normalization.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman refused to attend Algeria meeting under medical excuses but attended Sharm El-Sheikh conference a week later. His absence from Arab League summit and presence in climate change conference leaves no doubt that he skipped Algeria meeting because Palestine was a central topic and signing any anti-Israeli statement could complicate the normalization. Bin Salman, who has taken the leadership of the normalization project, could seize the opportunity created by Sharm el-Sheikh meeting and push the Arab countries towards closer ties with Tel Aviv.
The climate change meeting was held as the world is polarized by Ukraine war and this issue will negatively influence the decisions of the big powers to implement the climate agreements, as the countries, driven by political considerations, put their interests over global interests.