I’m Aggy Hall, and I lead 350.org’s global campaigns team. Here at the UN climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, I coordinate the team’s work and make sure we stick to our campaigning priorities – COPs can be hectic, so it’s important to stay focused.
I oversee our delegation’s actions and activities, and monitor the team’s well-being, safety and security. I organise and lead our daily early morning briefing, and daily evening debrief. So my days start early and end well after dinner – but I don’t mind, because I get really energised by being among my amazing team. It’s so rare for all of us from across the world to meet in person.
This is only my second time at COP – the first time was last year in Glasgow. I came to work at 350.org with a professional history of working on human rights, so I feel relatively new-ish to the world of climate negotiations.
But it’s my professional background which allows me to see clearly how closely the climate crisis and human rights are interconnected. I’ve worked with people on the frontline of the struggle with climate impacts, and environmental defenders facing violence and oppression. Our human rights – the right to safety, dignity, home, peace, a clean and healthy environment – are all at risk from the climate crisis. Climate justice and human rights are two sides of the same coin.
Usually, my day at COP starts when I enter the conference center and grab my daily ECO, a newspaper printed each day of COP by the Climate Action Network. I love ECO – it’s like reading Lady Whistledown write about climate negotiations! 😅
Today was a little different, though – it was a very moving day at COP27, and I feel both solemn, and determined.
This morning, I came to the conference center dressed in white – like many others. We wore white to show our solidarity and honour human rights defenders and people suffering from state violence and oppression anywhere in the world. Just before noon, with a hundred other people dressed in white, I raised my fist and called for human rights to be upheld, during a moving action in the middle of the COP27 conference venue.
My other role at COP27 is to meet with movement partners, media and funders. COP is one of the year’s best opportunity to build relationships and collaborations for future campaigns, because so many people from all over the world attend. I’m also one of our team’s spokespeople, and I’m often dispatched by our communications colleagues to talk to journalists.
Today, after a huddle with my team, and a coordination meeting with other members of the climate NGO network, I walked across the huge conference venue for an interview with a Swedish radio station. A day at COP involves a lot of walking, and a lot of talking – that’s very different from my regular day in my home office!
Later in the day, I took part in a fun action our colleagues from 350.org South Africa organised to demand transparency in how public money is used to fund fossil energy projects. I also joined their panel event, during which my colleagues spoke about the need for local communities to be consulted and involved in planning their energy future. The right to decide one’s future is a human right – too often trampled by coal, oil and gas development projects.
Today’s edition of the ECO rightly complained about the messy logistics of COP27 – it’s been so hard to find places to sit and work, and the internet rarely works well. Drinking water and food, and even soap in the bathrooms, are hard to find. Despite this, we crack on, grateful to be here when so many activists simply don’t have the freedom to join. By late afternoon, after our daily debrief, I was very ready to head back to the hotel for some focus time and rest.
My hope for this COP – the hope that keeps me going, that keeps me focused and determined – is that rich global north countries will finally step up their game and offer real support, and real money, to save what can still be saved from the worst impacts of the climate crisis – including people’s rights, livelihoods and traditions.
I feel grateful that today, and each day of this UN climate conference, that I can be part of the civil society that keeps raising our voices in defense of human rights. I hear that call for justice in my Pacific Islander colleagues’ demand for Loss & Damage finance, and in my African colleagues’ fight against neocolonial oil and gas extraction projects. In the demand to free political prisoners of conscience, and in our continued fight to keep global heating under 1.5ºC.