Faculty Scholarship Series:
Examining the politics of climate justice at the COP27 UN negotiations in Cairo, Egypt
In November of 2022, Dr. Derman travelled with a masters student to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to observe the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“COP27”), supported by a Competitive Scholarly Research Grant. COPs, the major yearly event of international climate negotiations, have been an important site for his research since 2009. They present a fascinating and challenging setting for participant observation, document-based and, when possible, interview methods. COPs have also often provided occasions for local and regional activists to host open assemblies involving social movement and NGO representatives. Along with COPs, these “people’s spaces” have provided rich opportunities for gathering data, helping to underpin his analysis of “climate justice” as an increasingly widely recognized stake in politics, policymaking, and legal advocacy, which, broadly speaking, aims to expose and address inequalities wrapped up with climate change and its governance. Currently, Dr. Derman is developing a conceptual perspective through which to analyze climate justice issues and advocacy, and communicate them for a diverse leadership.
Climate justice has meant different things in different times and places, and for different groups. At COP27, we found a relatively small and restrained civil society presence, with constituents voicing concerns about human rights, corporate capture and government accountability. In debates focused on the negotiations proper, parties to the convention facing disproportionate impacts and their civil society allies have moved from demanding emissions cuts in wealthy countries, to focusing largely on the past promises and future potential of international “climate finance.”
Environmental Studies Program