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7 Nov 2022

COP27: Pressure is on for human rights to be central to this year's UN climate summit

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The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) is currently running in Sharm-El Sheik, Egypt. The topic of “loss and damage” - the irreversible economic and non-economic costs of both extreme weather events and slow onset climate disasters such as the sea-level rise and melting glaciers - made it onto the agenda for the first time. This goes some way towards alleviating fears the discussions would fall at the first hurdle, but it is critical the conversation does not stop there. Human rights must be at the centre of climate actions, as the open letter to UNFCCC and State parties, coordinated by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Indigenous Peoples' Rights International, and signed by over 200 organisations, urged in October. This includes not just addressing human rights violations and attacks on Human Rights Defenders, related to the mining and renewable energy sectors, but the advancement of co-ownership and co-benefit models, and increasing energy equity.

In our coverage of COP27, we will focus on monitoring three themes:

  • Indigenous Peoples’ demands and any developments which recognise Indigenous Peoples are vital actors in climate solutions, as stewards of nature and protectors of our biodiversity
  • Increased recognition that investments in renewable energy need to centre human rights to be sustainable
  • Civic freedoms & COP27: For any COP to be legitimate, civil society actors need to be able to actively contribute to proceedings and be free to organise prior and during it. However as news of arrests and travel restrictions grow, alongside existing restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Egypt, there remain serious concerns about the legitimacy of this climate summit

United Nations, investors & civil society call for human rights to be at the heart of climate action

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, investors and large civil society coalitions have been encouraging State parties negotiating at COP27 to raise their ambitions, and deliver on the Paris Agreement, which made the need for rights-based climate action clear. These same groups, alongside UN representatives, are also clear that civil society representatives need to be able to participate fully at the COP27 and that decisions about climate change need to be transparent, inclusive, and accountable, particularly for those most affected.

600-plus investors call on governments to radically raise their climate ambition at COP27

The 2022 Global Investor Statement to Governments on the Climate Crisis with 602 investor signatures representing almost US$42 trillion in assets under management calls on governments to create just transition plans, guarantee long-term resilience and energy security.

Organisations call on COP leaders to ensure transition minerals exploitation doesn’t undermine a just energy transition

More than 230 organisations insist COP27 is a key moment to look at solutions that will reduce dependence on mining and initiate a real shift in the way minerals are extracted and used, including through prioritising Indigenous Peoples’ right to give or withhold their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

Open letter with 1,400 signatures urges Egyptian government to open civic space and release those arbitrarily detained

The signatories express concern about the human rights situation in Egypt and the government’s restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, which are undermining an inclusive and participatory climate summit.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls for dramatic, rights-based action to respond to climate change

Volker Türk highlighted the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that rights-based, participatory climate action leads to more effective, legitimate, and sustainable outcomes for people and the planet.