GUEST BLOG: Ian Powell – Should the Prime Minister go to Cop27? ‘Blood, blood, blood’


Aside from trashing the British economy and a shorter lifespan than a lettuce, the prime ministership of Liz Truss will be remembered for dissuading the new King Charles from attending the Cop27 United Nations climate summit in Egypt’s resort city Sharm el-Sheikh commencing on 6 November.

This led to some media discussion over whether Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has outlasted several fields of lettuces, should attend this internationally prestigious event given her strong international reputation and the priority her government asserts to combating climate change. Instead she is staying at home.

The answer to the question of whether to attend or not can be indirectly found in the ‘long read’ article by Naomi Klein in The Guardian Weekly (28 October; first published in The Intercept): Climate conference greenwashes police state.

Naomi Klein: an exceptionally talented progressive journalist and author of international acclaim

Abd El-Fattah

Klein centres her article on a visionary technologist and intellectual, Abd El-Fattah, who became synonymous with the popular uprising that ended the three-decade rule of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak.

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But, under a new more brutal dictatorship, El-Fattah has been imprisoned almost continuously for the past decade. Today he is one of the country’s highest profile around 60,000 political prisoners. He is presently undertaking a hunger strike.

In the lead-up to the summit El-Fattah penned a letter to his mother in London (both are also British citizens) on climate change prompted by the devastating floods in Pakistan and other world events. Although it contained no critical reference to Egypt the authorities declined to pass it on to her.

Abd El-Fattah: imprisoned proponent of climate justice and human rights

Since the military coup in 2013 led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in a military coup in 2013 which has been reinforced by subsequent sham elections, the governing regime is regarded by human rights organisations as “…one of the most brutal and repressive in the world.

Post-‘blah, blah, blah’

Klein observes that international delegates to the summit can’t even read up much on current pollution and environmental despoliation in Egypt in academic or non-government organisation reports. This is because a 2019 law requires researchers to get government permission before releasing information considered “political”.

The ‘government’ hosting the summit meanwhile has failed to protect Egyptians rights against environmental damage caused by corporate interests, including water security, industrial pollution, and harm from real estate, tourism development, and agribusiness. Capping it all off is the fact that Coke is a proud sponsor of the event.

Is the Cop27 summit likely to champion climate justice, bring about green energy, clean up transit and ensure food sovereignty for those living in poverty? There is about as much chance of this as the Iranian theocratic government holding a genuine conference on women’s rights.

Instead it is more likely to be a lavish gift to a dictatorship based on a torture regime. It is difficult to convincingly argue that Egypt is less repressive than Iran.

Prime Minister Ardern should denounce Cop27 as ‘blood, blood, blood’

Greta Thunberg with considerable effectiveness characterised the last summit (Cop26 in Glasgow) as ‘blah, blah, blah’. Levering off this Naomi Klein suggests Cop27 in Sharm el-Sheikh be characterised as ‘blood, blood, blood’.

If there was a realistic prospect of Cop27 advancing climate justice in some substantive way, then if at all possible Jacinda should attend. Otherwise it would be more effective and progressive for her to denounce it as ‘blood, blood, blood’.

In contrast to Klein’s characterisation, Thunberg’s sounds positive albeit in a vacuous kind of way.

Ian Powell was Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, the professional union representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand, for over 30 years, until December 2019. He is now a health systems, labour market, and political commentator living in the small river estuary community of Otaihanga (the place by the tide). First published at Political Bytes


  1. So, hang on…Jacinda from announcements will take a jet plane to the other side of the world, stay in flash accommodation, so she can lecture us about Climate Change….ever heard of Zoom/Google Meet?

    She is doing a James Shaw Glasgow Climate Change Conference…

    • Go or not I don’t care but wow that’s a tired argument. The notion people meeting in person to make progress on this issue are hypocrites for not rowing and or cycling to the event. It’s just stupid.

      Someone has to keep the temperature elevated around the airports Nathan. From memory that was your brilliant theory on global warming. If we just moved those thermometers!

    • Which part of ” Instead she is staying at home” is confusing to you? It’s in the second paragraph. At the end.

      • It’s what happens when the right wing read the headline but not the whole column Steve. They have there own sets of rules for thee, the right.

        • The idea that we still discuss flying to some bullshit meeting in order to meet n greet and dine and wine is bullshit. Jacinda Ardern and all other attendees can zoom. No one needs to fly to these junkets.
          If anything they should promote ZOOM for these meetings after all Climate Change is real and it is gonna kill us all!!!! Save the Planet. Stop OIL!!!!

  2. If you missed it there is an actual balanced article on talking about countries over relying on planting trees as NZ is doing :
    Some relevant highlights for our country carbon taxing it’s farmers and planting their farms in to exotic pine forestry:
    “ The study found that, based on current pledges, countries intended to use 633 million hectares for carbon capture tactics such as tree planting, which was deemed unrealistic and would swallow land desperately needed for food production and ecology.”
    “ Dr Dooley’s research raised problems with carbon accounting methods, which the report found failed to recognise the variation in different kinds of carbon storage.

    “All carbon stocks are in effect assumed to have the same stability, longevity, and resilience,” the report found.

    “Current carbon accounting practices fail to recognise that carbon lost from primary forests is not offset by planting trees — with lower ecosystem integrity in monoculture systems the risk of carbon loss is higher.””

    “Can we offset out way to net zero?”

    So perhaps it’s worth flying to the conference to develop a strategy that actually works and doesn’t leave our country unproductive and covered in fire prone exotic pine trees.

  3. I hear we’re only getting 5% royalties for the oil that comes out of our waters. Increase that to 25% and make it unpalatable for oil companies to drill here.

    Shut down Tiwai, stop giving them cheap electricity contracts.
    Replace it with a hydrogen plant.

    I would also suggest politicians educate themselves about where their lithium ion battery came from, the processes required to produce that battery.
    All the dirty energy to create them, it creates more negatives than positives for the environment.

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