Global Afro Blog: Biden Addresses COP 27 — Defending Democracy and Holding Them Accountable

by Kathy T. Egland, Advisory Board Chair — The Chisholm Legacy Project

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden spoke to a packed audience at COP 27 on Friday, November 11. He began his remarks with a tribute to veterans in honor of Veterans’ Day and gave a special shout out to Vietnam veteran, Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry for his valiant, heroic services. He then announced a litany of actions the United States would take to curb methane emissions. The President declared support for a potentially life-saving system that would provide early warning for extreme weather events in Africa. He announced a pact with Egypt that will support new solar and wind projects in exchange for Egypt decommissioning its gas power plants and reducing emissions.

Towards the end of his speech, he was briefly interrupted by youth and Indigenous activists, standing atop a table waving a banner that read ‘People vs Fossil Fuels’. I was initially startled by the protest that occurred very close to where I was seated. The UN security quickly jumped into action, getting them to step down from the table, quietly reseated them, confiscated their banner,  and restored calm. There have been mixed feelings about this bold, youthful display of civil disobedience — especially in a country not known for being tolerate of democratic principles such as free speech.

If we take a moment to sit back and analyze their motives I believe we will have a much clearer perspective. They’re facing a dismal future due to a climate crisis not being adequately and effectively addressed by global governments. They have become disenchanted by the lack of progress and leery of the endless empty promises. They’re desperately seeking government accountability and defending the very democratic principles upon which the USA was founded. Yes, we are not on our home soil and maybe that should have been factored into their decision to protest during a speech of our U.S. President while in another country. However, we continue to pump our fists and chant: “What Do We Want? Climate Justice! When Do We Want It? Now!” Maybe the outburst was a breach of established political decorum and not appropriate. But maybe the desperation and urgency led the youthful protesters to take matters of their future into their own hands and throw caution to the wind. We want climate justice and we want it now! But maybe in their defiance, they displayed fearlessness and determination to stand by another popular chant: No Justice! No Peace!

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