Is Cop27 greenwashing on an international scale?

The eyes of the world will be on the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh over the course of the Cop27 summit

Samuel Webb
Friday 11 November 2022 11:03 GMT
Rishi Sunak not attending Cop27 is 'standard practice', says Therese Coffey

The UN Climate Change Conference, known better as Cop27, aims to raise awareness of sustainability and the benefits of nations reducing their carbon footprint.

The event, which has happened every year since 1995, therefore faces intense scrutiny over how climate-friendly it is.

Large international events can generate an enormous amount of pollution and waste, so what steps are organisers in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh taking to reduce waste and emissions?

Was Cop26 sustainable?

The UNFCCC sets minimum requirements for hosting a COP, which includes delivering a carbon-neutral conference, and last year’s event in Glasgow was no exception.

The UK Government committed to implementing the International Standard for Event Sustainability Management Systems (ISO20121), which requires event organisers to considerall key financial, economic, social and environmental factors related to planning and operations. It was also the first COP to achieve PAS 2060, the international standard for carbon neutrality.

Measures included prioritising low-carbon alternative energy sources such as electric and low-emission vehicles and solar panels, avoiding waste to landfill by reusing and recycling material, and prioritising locally sourced and seasonal food items to minimise mileage and carbon emissions.

What sustainability measures are Cop27 organisers putting in place?

The Cop27 website states host city Sharm El-Sheikh will deliver a sustainable carbon-neutral conference to demonstrate its “ambitious aspiration toward climate action”.

Organisers say the main venue – the International Conference Center – and the wider city will put renewable energy, energy efficiency, e-mobility, water reuse, conservation, and waste management, will be at the fore

It adds: “We challenged ourselves to commit to environmental and social values at the conference and encourage sustainable behaviours through the implementation of sustainable guidelines and principles.

“These principles have been integrated within the fabric of COP27 by using recyclable environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastic products and paper use. In addition, we considered the sustainability dimensions in procurement, construction materials, supply chain, catering, and other aspects of the conference.”

The Egyptian government insisted on the use the renewable energy during Cop27 and built three solar power plants to power Sharm El-Sheikh airport, the conference centre, and hotels.

Egypt will provide sustainable transport for Cop27 participants with 260 electric and natural gas buses.

What about the host city?

In June a $7m project was announced to turn Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort city on the Red Sea coast, into a model environmentally sustainable tourist city.

The money went on converting its transportation network to electric, developing eco-friendly hotels, training hotel employees in environmental policies, and new environmental practices for dive centres.

Magdi Allam, former deputy environment minister, also announced that Egypt would also plant 10,000 acres of mangroves along Red Sea coastlines to protect biodiversity.

Is greenwashing an issue at Cop27?

In September Coca-Cola announced its sponsorship of the event, which drew condemnation from environmental campaigners.

The soft drink giant, which aims to reduce emissions by 25% emissions reduction and be net zero carbon globally by 2050, is one of the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste.

Steve Trent, CEO of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: "Coca-Cola’s whole business model is predicated on fossil fuels. They have made promises to improve recycling which have never been met."

Last year when the UK government banned fossil fuel companies from sponsoring the event.

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