‘Biden should step up’: Cop27 protesters demand US pay for climate damage

“The US has a huge responsibility,” said one activist

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent at Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Friday 11 November 2022 11:09 GMT
Young climate activists from 'Fridays for future' stage a protest at Cop27

Youth activists at Cop27 have demanded Joe Biden and other leaders compensate the global South for the damage wrought by the climate crisis.

“Show us the money,” protesters from Kenya to Colombia shouted in unison as they marched at the summit on Friday. “Climate rights are our rights, not just for the rich and white.”

The protest organised by Friday’s For Future coincides with a global climate strike around the world, with activists including Greta Thunberg taking to the streets. It also comes ahead of a visit by Mr Biden to the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday.

“A very important president is coming here today and we need to ensure that he is going to give us the money,” said one activist speaking at the protest.

In the crowd, dozens of youngsters also held up signs and banners calling for an end to new fossil fuels, exploitation in the global South, and for solidarity with people living in areas most affected by the worsening crisis.

Mana Omar, 27, said she was protesting for her pastoralist community in Kenya that had been hit hard by a series of devastating droughts.

Her father was among those who had lost all his cattle and with it, his livelihood, she said, adding that some fathers were being forced to sell their daughters as young as 10 just to feed their other children.

“The gradual loss of livestock is leading to a loss of culture, it’s potentially threatening our existence and so it’s really important for me to speak up and to demand loss and damage finance,” she said. “It’s a matter of human rights.”

“You’re told to abandon your culture and just move to another place,” she said, breaking into tears.

Mana Omar, from Kenya at the protest on Friday (Saphora Smith)

Ms Omar called on Mr Biden to “commit some funds” to compensate communities like hers.

“He’s among the countries that are most responsible for the climate crisis,” she said.

America, the world’s second-largest polluter, has traditionally been among the rich countries pushing back against the idea of compensating developing countries for damages caused by the climate crisis. It is concerned about the legal liability rich countries may face for potentially incalculable losses.

This year it welcomed the discussion of loss and damage at the summit but has yet to pledge money or agree to a fund. It remains to be seen if Mr Biden will address the issue that has so far dominated talks.

So far at Cop27 several countries have come out and pledged money for loss and damage including Scotland, Germany, Austria and Belgium. China’s climate envoy also said the country would be willing to contribute.

Youth activists call for compensation from rich countries at Cop2 (Saphora Smith)

Annika Kruse, a climate activist from Germany, said she was protesting because it was approaching the halfway mark at Cop27 and not enough money had been pledged and the global greenhouse emissions were still not declining.

“Today also Joe Biden is coming and the US is historically the biggest emitter on [sic] the world, so the US has a huge responsibility,” she said. “Biden should step up to his historic responsibility.”

A State Department spokesperson told The Independent on Thursday: “We are pleased that the parties were able to agree on an agenda item related to loss and damage. This will ensure that there will be an outcome to the discussions, and we look forward to working towards that outcome according to what we decided in Glasgow.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in