For activist Laura Young, attending COP27 in Egypt has been a different experience from the summit in Glasgow a year ago – with a sense of climate action now at a standstill.

She is one of thousands of delegates and observers taking part in the global gathering in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort which is more geared up to catering for tourists than activists.

The engines of planes taking off and landing at the airport close to the conference centre provides an ironic background to a meeting focused on reducing damage to the environment.

Young, who is attending with the University of Abertay where she is studying for a PhD and who is also an ambassador for charity Tearfund, said there had been a lack of announcements and commitments in the first week of COP27.

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“Last year COP26 was all about ambition, it was about big targets, big commitments, big action – there was a lot of moment, a lot of energy,” she said.

“Since then it feels like what has been a year of climate action standing still and it feels like that is a similar atmosphere we have here.”

She added: “Quite a lot of the world leaders for the first two days were giving announcements, but actually when you dig into what they were announcing it is stuff we already knew about.

“It is money that was already pledged or it is commitments they are just reiterating. I think that here is that frustration as there isn’t a lot that has been new.”

Young said the big talking point at this year’s conference is climate finance and the issue of “loss and damage” funding – to provide money to vulnerable nations to help address the impact of the climate crisis.

It’s an issue which Scotland led the way on at COP26 by becoming the first developed nation to commit funding for this issue, with Nicola Sturgeon pledging an additional £5 million of funding in Egypt last week. The First Minister was criticised for flying out to COP27, with critics claiming she had “no real reason to go”.

But Young pointed to a meeting between Sturgeon and representatives from the Global South countries as an example of why it was important to “be in the room” at such events.

“One of my friends from Kenya was in the room and we got to hear about his experience of the meeting,” she said.

“They all had the opportunity to share their reality of climate change.

“[Sturgeon] had the opportunity to sit in a room and listen to these stories, obviously we then got a really great announcement about this £5m of loss and damage money.”

She added: “I do think there is something about being in the room and actually hearing the stories from people who are impacted.

“But it is also not just hearing devastation but also the hope of what this money could do – this money could rebuild lives and communities.

“It is a shame that other world leaders and some other representatives haven’t taken that opportunity to spend that time – a lot of them just jetted in for their speech and then nipped away.”

One improvement Young has seen is the children and youth pavilion, the first dedicated space for this

age group at a COP summit, which has held more than 100 workshops and event.

“Here, there is a hangout spot, and they can put on events themselves on their own space and I think that has been a real step forward in youth engagement instead of this ‘youthwashing’ and the idea we will just put them around the edges of what is happening.”

And a small victory which appears to have been won is a reduction in the price of the food available at COP27, which is continuing to take place until Friday.

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Young said there was an outcry when delegates arrived to find limited sandwiches on offer priced at $15.

“People come from all over world on restricted budgets and there were quite a lot of complaints to organisers,” she said.

“Yesterday all drinks were free and all food half price – they realised they can’t be charging people all this money for stuff.

“That’s a good sign – I hope it is a metaphor for what’s to come and the world leaders are going to do the same and listen to us.”