The COP27 is currently being held in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Egypt is the fifth African country to host the COP; Africa being especially significant as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. Amplified by its role as host of the conference, Cairo has situated itself as Africa’s climate leader, with its main goal being to secure funds for helping developing countries’ adaption efforts.
At the same time, Egypt is still a relatively strict police state under the Sisi military dictatorship. In fact, many critics argue Cairo is using the summit as a “rebranding exercise” to deflect and distract from its authoritarian censorship and societal crackdown. Since 2013, Egypt has increasingly blocked independent news outlets and now holds approximately 60,000 journalists and activists behind bars.
Now, as the host of the Cop27 climate summit, attendees have already faced the country’s heavy censorship. For example, the conference internet connection blocks access to important news websites, such as the global rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty international, needed for the informational talks. Ironically, both the HRW and Amnesty Interntional are supposed to lead panel discussions at the conference but are unable to access their own websites. The extensive list of blocked websites, about 700 sites, is creating trying difficulties for the talks; one activist argues that, “there is no climate action without truth and information.”