Hussein El Mobayad
Climate change and particularly global warming remains the single most urgent ongoing global crisis to date. Human activities, including deforestation, large-scale agriculture and industrialisation have been attributed to increasing the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere which in turn have been a major driver of global warming since the mid-twentieth century. Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods caused by climate change are already affecting billions of people around the world and causing potentially irreversible changes in the global ecosystems. Evidently, latest estimates put the current annual rise in global temperature at 1.1°C, a metric which is often used to assess the trajectory of global environmental degradation.
Global Efforts on Climate Change
Since the 21st UN Conference of Parties (COP21), otherwise known as the Paris Agreement of 2015, world leaders had agreed to put a goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 °C. Sill, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change, to reach the above-mentioned limit, global greenhouse gas emissions must decline by 43 per cent by 2030, falling to net zero by 2050. Yet, alarmingly, scientists have warned that current national commitments are not sufficient, asserting that if the global temperatures rise by more than 1.5 °C, the earth will likely experience additional extreme climate change effects putting lives across the world at risk.
Nevertheless, from Paris’ COP21 to Glasgow’s COP26, little has been done to curb the rising global temperature, or to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, often referred to as adaptation projects. Additionally, developed and high-income countries have failed to deliver on their commitment of USD 100 billion per year to finance adaptation projects; designed to aid the least-developed countries mitigate the devastating impact of climate change, while facilitating their transition to renewable energy sources for sustainable growth.
Additionally, the convergence of global crises beginning with the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently the Ukrainian Crisis, have had an adverse effect on global efforts towards climate change. Recent events have also triggered a rush for more fossil-fuel based energy sources, with countries pouring billions into sourcing coal, oil and gas, in what the UN secretary general (António Guterres) had called an addiction; with countries seeking short-term relief over long-term well-being. Thus, deepening the global climate emergency and contributing to the reversal of years of progress done in eradicating poverty and hunger, pushing more communities into poverty. In addition to, jeopardising the trajectory of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) geared towards creating more resilient, peaceful and equal societies around the world.
Towards that end, COP27 Sharm Al-Sheikh scheduled for November 2022 will aim to reignite and solidify global commitment towards reversing climate change. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi asserted that Egypt would make COP27 a turning point in international climate efforts, with the goal to maintain international momentum and affirm the commitment of all stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental parties to turn their promises and pledges into actions. It also intends on bringing the African agenda to the forefront, highlighting that Africa is at the center of challenges and is affected by international crises more than any other region.
An African Agenda
Evidently, the African continent while home to 17% of the global population is only responsible for less than 4% of global emissions, with countries like South Africa and Nigeria accounting for almost 2% of the continent’s total emissions. Africa’s climate paradox is that it is the least responsible, but paying the highest price globally, where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average, and it is the most affected by droughts and the second most affected by floods. In addition to, annual projections of 2-5 % GDP loss from the impact of climate change.
More server projections stipulate that by 2030, an upwards of 118 million of the extremely poor population will be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat, thus hindering progress towards poverty alleviation and growth. Similarly, Egypt has been classified as ‘extremely vulnerable’ to climate change, this includes and not limited to, the country’s dependence on the Nile for irrigation and hence food security, in addition to threats to inhabitants of the North Coast, stemming from the rise of sea levels.
Therefore, having a common African agenda that recognises shared dangers of climate change, will become a powerful motor in exerting pressure on countries with highest emissions. Thus, within the African context, COP27 will form a collective bargaining power reinforced by regional and international partners committed to reducing global emissions in demanding change from top-polluters and in moving beyond mitigation polices and into actionable adaptation strategies required to reach net zero global emission.
The Egyptian Role: NDCs and COP27
While COP27 is seen as a continuation of previous global efforts from RIO 1992 to Glasgow 2021, unlike its predecessors it prioritises the implementation of previous agreements, pledges and commitments. This includes:
1. The serious implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of participant countries.
2. Accelerating global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance.
3. Delivering existing commitments and pledges, announced from previous COPs, chiefly the delivery of the annual USD 100 billion to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to build more trust between developed and developing countries, showing that actual commitments are being fulfilled.
In practical terms, since climate change is a multi-stake global issue, there must be a better understanding of each stakeholder role, to ensure that pledges would make their way into investable projects on the ground.
Nonetheless, throughout recent years, Egypt has achieved major strides in the implementation of its NDCs, expressing clear leadership in its roles in climate mitigation and adaptation. As such, the Egyptian Ministry of Environment released a report titled ‘Sowing Seeds’ showcasing Egypt’s efforts in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the protection of its population from the impacts of climate change. Evidently, Egypt’s energy policy reform process started in 2014, with the aim of triggering green financing and encouraging the implementation of energy efficacy improvements, while moving towards a ‘third industrial revolution’. The Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy of 2035, sets renewable energy targets of 20% in the electricity mix by 2022 and 42% by 2035.
Thus far, Egypt has invested largely in upgrading its power generation capacities and reshaping the industrial sector to reduce its carbon footprint. This includes, implementing fuel switching projects from heavy oil to natural gas, energy efficiency measures as well as expanding the use of small-scale renewable energy applications. Egypt has also started implementing the first phase of converting waste to energy, with a total amount of investments ranging between USD 340-400 million. It also invested in lining irrigation canals to reduce water losses, large-scale drainage water treatment and reuse for irrigation. In addition to investing in sea water desalination and flood protection. Egypt is also investing in changing cropping patterns with new crop species that are tolerant to heat and water shortages.
The Ministry of Environment also launched the “Get Green” initiative in January 2020, with the aim of creating awareness regarding the impact of climate change. This includes raising awareness of the importance of afforestation, recycling waste, rationalising food and energy consumption, reducing the use of plastic, preserving marine creatures, reducing air pollution, and protecting Natural Reserves.
More recently, Egypt has actively invested in “green” cities, with Sharm El-Sheikh held as an example of a successful green transformation having adopted sustainable accommodation, transportation, energy, waste management and tourism operations. Additionally, this year on June 6, the Ministry of Environment signed an agreement for the development of “Green Sharm El Sheikh”, worth USD 7 million, with the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and in partnership with the United Nations Development Program. With the implementation carried through by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, which will work to increase the use of Low carbon technologies, appropriate waste management practices and environmental protection; aiming to transform Sharm El Sheikh into an integrated and environmentally sustainable tourist destination.
Finally, in preparation for COP27 Egypt has deployed an active and robust diplomatic mission, geared towards absorbing global initiatives and plans concerning climate change, with the intention of channeling a unified actionable agenda in the conference scheduled later this year. Towards this purpose, the Egyptian Foreign Minister (Sameh Shoukry) in his capacity as the COP27 President Designate had tirelessly engaged in meetings and forums both nationally and abroad. This included Shoukry’s participation in the African Union Assembly meetings, where he assured that Egypt will speak up for Africa’s aspirations to cope with climate change. In addition to, hosting the ‘Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development’ showcasing the importance of a resilient future in Africa, while acknowledging that pressures climate change exerts on stability and security in the continent while affirming the need for a global action to implement climate commitments and pledges to support Africa.
More recently, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry co-hosted the ‘Petersburg Climate Dialogue’ of 2022, arguing for further commitments for action that protects future generations. In addition to stressing on the importance of fair transition to green and renewable energy, with wealthy countries financing climate adaptation for LDCs, and empowering African countries to utilise their natural resources and achieve economic development in line with efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment.
1- Activating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) which are crucial for the next implementation phase in investable ‘green’ and sustainable development projects. It is also necessary for both sides to be clearer about their objectives and processes.
2- The government must create conditions conducive for climate financing and for market access through reforms, while being clear about its (NDCs) and investment road maps. This is particularly important in phasing out environmentally damaging or fossil fuel dependent industries, where conception and implementation are clearer for the private sector to be agile and adapt to the changes as to not waste capital.
3- Assimilate ‘best practice’ examples from abroad, particularly in stimulating the private sector and developing strategies (corporate social and environmental responsibility) in the use of environmentally friendly alternatives from multi-use materials and a ban on single-use plastics.
4- In addition to raising awareness of the impact of climate change and instilling environmentally friendly practices emanating from the “Go Green” initiative, it is necessary to have clear guidelines for the Egyptian citizen to adopt renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels and miniature wind turbines, in order to reduce the burden of energy production in Egypt.
In conclusion, all indicators reveal firm and decisive Egyptian efforts in the combatting climate change. Carried out through a leadership role in achieving sustainable development and adopting effective policies in the environmental field, through planning, monitoring and evaluation, in order to achieve the vision of (Sustainable Egypt 2030). Thus, reforms are identified in several fields, including energy and agriculture, with the development of strategies for transforming ‘green’ cities in accordance with international environmental standards. To date, Sharm El-Sheikh serves as an example to follow and an experience that is set to be applied in various Egyptian cities.
More so, the significance of the COP27 conference stems from the latest information that shows that climate change and subsequent environmental degradation is moving faster than countries in confronting it; thus, pushing ecosystems and societies to their limits. Therefore, the conference aims to urgently intensify international efforts to adapt to the repercussions of global warming. In addition to, highlighting the impacts of climate change on Africa, a continent that is currently facing the most damaging impacts of climate change, and which is suffering from the food and fuel shocks caused by the Ukrainian crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence the need to escalate international endeavours in a just transition to climate adaptation, while continuing to call on the developed and most polluting country parties to fulfil their commitments and work with other parties to ensure the rapid implementation of financing for climate adaptation projects, while equitably sharing the costs and benefits of reducing emissions.
List of Sources
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5.Soliman, M. (2022). President Sisi urges int’l efforts, empowering African countries to combat climate change . Retrieved from Ahram Online: https://english.ahram.org.eg/News/471667.aspx
6.Ministry of Environment of Egypt . (2021). Sowing Seeds for Future Generations: Egypt’s Leadership on Climate Mitigation and Adaptation . Cairo.
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