The Speaker
Thursday, 18 April 2024 – 21:45

COP27: A parade of green hypocrisy

NOTE: This is an opinion article – any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Speaker or any members of its team.

As Egypt’s farmers struggle to adapt to climate change, over four hundred private jets landed in Sharm el-Sheikh last week for the COP27 delegations. The aim of COP27 is to accelerate global efforts to combat the climate crisis and yet, its attendees are criticized for engaging in “greenwashing, lying and cheating” (Greta Thunberg, Royal Festival Hall).

The increasingly frequent heatwaves and rapidly changing weather patterns lead to erosion and flooding in areas where such vulnerability can not be afforded. Egypt’s food security struggles are further fueled by the war in Ukraine, the combination of the two most pressing challenges in the world place Egypt in a substantially vulnerable position. As the delegates at COP27 continue to discuss economic compensation for the endangered countries, European airports are filled with climate protesters who call for the introduction of higher travel taxes.

Private jets generally produce significantly more emissions per passenger than commercial flights, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) suggests that if the leaders opted for a commercial flight the emission of CO2 per passenger would decrease from three to half a tonne. The hypocritical actions of the world leaders angered hundreds of environmentalists who as a result occupied the main concourse of the Schiphol airport and cycled around the private jets in order to prevent them from taking off. This action took place on the 5th November, on the eve of the COP27 delegation, over 200 arrests were made by the Dutch police. The demonstration was an organised protest, the 500 riders were members of Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion; both organizations actively encourage non-violent, direct action to minimise climate change. The results were favourable, Schiphol’s CEO stated that the airport is targeting “emission-free airports by 2030 and net climate neutral aviation by 2050”. Additionally, the Dutch government announced an upcoming annual cap of 440,000 passengers at Schiphol, an 11% decrease since 2019.

The action taken against private jet emissions may be disregarded by many and classed as minor in comparison to for instance, the combustion of fossil fuels. However, it must be remembered that every single factor which contributes to climate change is substantial considering that we are now on the path of exceeding the 1.5 degree commitment made last year at COP26. Critics of the cycling protest such as KLM airline and Schiphol management and aviation industry characterized the movement as an inadequate, confusing and unnecessary action “lacking any perspective”. However, it is undoubtful that KLM will have such an opinion after suffering the loss of $173 million resulting from the protest. In addition to that, the Netherlands is not even remotely close to the countries most affected by climate change. The 2022 monsoon rainfall this year was nearly three times higher than the 30-year average (affecting 15% of Pakistan’s population), almost 70% of Brazil’s microendemic species of seed plants are projected to be under high extinction risk by the end of the century and 108-116 million people in Africa are expected to be exposed to sea level rise risk by 2030. The situation is grave and necessary action must be taken.

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