Speakers at the protests blamed major polluters for destructive weather events, such as flooding, drought and rising sea levels.
“We are here today to think about our people, to think about our planet,” said one of the speakers. “We must now reclaim our rights.”
Cansin Leylim, an activist with the climate group 350.org, criticized the sponsorship of the event by soft drink giant Coca Cola as a significant contributor to plastic pollution.
“The fact that Coca Cola is sponsoring the climate talks is frankly a joke,” she said, adding that fossil fuel lobbyists at the summit have “outdone the combined delegations of the small island states, the developing countries.”
Protests at COP27 are rare and minor and have all taken place in the site’s Blue Zone, which is considered UN territory.
Several dozen activists staged a silent protest at the site of the UN climate conference early Thursday to denounce human rights violations worldwide, particularly in the host country Egypt.
The protesters held placards that read: “No climate justice without human rights.”
Most of them wore white T-shirts and had their hands tied or a piece of cloth in their mouths to highlight the plight of imprisoned activists, especially in Egypt, where many pro-democracy activists have been behind bars for years.
“We now stand in solidarity with Egyptian prisoners of conscience,” said Dipiti Bhatnagar, an activist with Friends of the Earth International, a network of environmental organizations. “All human rights of everyone must be respected to make the dream of climate justice a reality.”
Another Tanzanian environmentalist, Shamim Navil Nyanda, said human rights should be a priority in climate talks.
“We must put human rights first. We must take care of humanity and together we can protect the planet,” she said.
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Seven Asian countries have saved about $34 billion this year by using solar energy instead of fossil fuels, a report by three Asia-based climate think tanks said Thursday. The report comes as officials discuss how to drastically reduce emissions during UN climate talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The report found that most of the estimated savings lie in China, where solar energy accounted for 5% of total electricity demand in the first half of this year and prevented about $21 billion in additional coal and gas imports.
Japan saw the second largest impact, with $5.6 billion in fuel costs avoided thanks to solar power generation alone. In India, solar energy saved $4.2 billion in fuel costs in the first half of the year.
“Asian countries need to tap into their huge solar potential to move quickly from expensive and highly polluting fossil fuels,” said Isabella Suarez, one of the authors of the report and an energy analyst at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. “While ambitious goals are important, following them will be the most important for looking ahead.”
A report released Thursday says deforestation in the vast rainforest of the Congo Basin has increased by 5% by 2021.
According to the Forest Declaration Assessment, only two of the six countries in the Congo Basin that have signed a commitment by 2021 to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 – Congo and Gabon – are on track with the target. The report comes as officials and negotiators meet in Egypt’s seaside town of Sharm el-Sheikh for UN climate talks.
“The Congo Basin Forest is at a crossroads,” said Marion Ferrat, senior author of the report. “Deforestation was low compared to other tropical regions, but we are seeing an upward trend.”
“If this trend continues, we risk losing the largest remaining intact forest in the tropics, along with its immense and irreplaceable value to biodiversity, climate and people.”
It is estimated that $100 billion is needed each year to preserve the Amazon basin, said Lawrence Nsoyuni of the Geospatial Technology Group, who pushed for bigger financial commitments.
“If world leaders take their commitments to halt forest loss seriously, they need to step up financial support for the Congo Basin,” he said.
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