Greta Thunberg will not attend 'greenwashing' COP27 summit in Egypt

Greta Thunberg will not attend 'greenwashing' COP27 summit in Egypt
Climate activist Greta Thunberg said she will not attend the upcoming UN COP27 summit in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh next month, claiming the event is a form of 'greenwashing'.
2 min read
31 October, 2022
Thunberg has previously expressed solidarity with 'prisoners of conscience' held in Egypt [Getty]

Greta Thunberg said on Sunday she will not attend the upcoming COP27 summit in Egypt, claiming the event is a form of "greenwashing".

The Swedish climate activist complained that the space for civil society at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit due to take place between 6 and 18 November is "extremely limited", during the launch of her latest book at London's Southbank Centre.

Egypt's hosting of the UN climate summit, which will bring world leaders together in a bid to reach new commitments to limit climate change, has drawn sharp criticism from activists due to Cairo's harrowing human rights record.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has also been accused by environmental activists of being too weak to tackle the climate emergency.

"The COPs are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing," Thunberg said.

She said the global COP summits "are not really working" and are aimed at encouraging gradual environmental progress rather than changing the "whole system", which environmentalists say is needed to prevent a climate disaster.

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Thunberg said the summits still present environmental activists with an "opportunity to mobilise". Given Egypt's massive crackdown on civil society, this is unlikely to happen at the Sharm el-Sheikh event.

Activists across the globe argue that real action on the climate can only be taken if activists, journalists, scientists, and other advocates are free to put pressure on their governments without fear of reprisal. 

Strict security measures were implemented earlier this month in Egypt this month to identify would-be protesters, to prevent demonstrations during the summit.

Plain-clothed police have been checking IDs and searching the phones of suspected activists on the streets of Cairo and other cities in the country in anticipation of protests. 

Over 30 groups, including Amnesty International, have urged Egypt to end freedom crackdowns on activists ahead of the summit, citing concerns that restrictive laws could curtail the right to freedom of assembly and expression for many.

The 19-year-old activist has previously expressed solidarity with prisoners of conscience held in Egypt, with around 60,000 political prisoners detained by the Sisi regime.