Egypt and Climate Change
Thursday، 25 November 2021 - 05:29 PM
What is Climate Change?
United Nations Legal Tools
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The United Nations has exerted strenuous effort to save our planet. In 1992, within the 'Earth Summit', the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been ratified as a first step in facing the problem of climate change. Today, 197 states had joined this Convention which main target is to prevent the 'dangerous' human intervention in the climate system.
By 1995, countries began negotiations to strengthen the global response to climate change. Two years later, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. Legally, the Kyoto Protocol binds developed country to emissions. The Protocol's first commitment period began in 2008 and ended in 2012, while the second commitment period began on 1 January 2013 and ended in 2020. Today, 197 countries are parties to the Convention and 192 are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties that was held in Paris reached a historic agreement to combat climate change, and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed to achieve a sustainable low-carbon future. For the first time, all states agree on a common stance of exerting efforts to face the climate change and to adapt with its repercussions, along with supporting the efforts of the developing countries in this respect, thus drawing a new path in the efforts exerted towards addressing the world climate.
The main target behind Paris Agreement is to enhance the universal response towards the danger of climate change. This should be done through preserving the universal rise in temperature during this century to less than 2C compared to the era before the industrial revolution, and to resume efforts to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5C.
On April 22, 2015 and on the occasion of the Earth Day, 175 world leaders signed Paris Agreement in the United Nations premises in New York; the largest number of states signing an international agreement in one day ever. Currently, 184 states joined this Agreement.
Climate Summit 2019On September 23, 2019
Secretary-General António Guterres convened the Climate Summit to unite world leaders from government, private sector and civil society to support the multilateral process and increase and accelerate climate action and ambition. In this respect, he appointed Luis Alfonso de Alba, a former Mexican diplomat, as his Special Envoy to lead the Summit. The Summit paid due attention to the key sectors that can make the biggest difference, such as the heavy industry, the nature-based solutions, the cities, energy, and climate finance. During this Summit, world leaders presented their action plan and their vision for their meeting in 2020 at the United Nations Climate Conference where commitments can be renewed and increased.
Paris Agreement “First Global Agreement on Climate”
The Paris Agreement was held at the COP21 conference. It is considered the most famous and most dynamic as it is the first global agreement on climate. This agreement came upon the negotiations that took place during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 21 (COP21) in Paris.
In 1992, more than 100 countries signed a treaty - called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - to cut global emissions and preserve the Earth's climate.
Developed and developing countries (as described by the treaty) have agreed that they have different responsibilities in combating climate change. Thus all countries must work together and address the problem unanimously. However, not all countries have formally agreed to take action to limit warming to 1.5-2C° until the 2015 Paris meeting, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the Treaty, or the COP21.
The agreement includes commitments from all countries to reduce emissions and work together to adapt to the effects of climate change. It also calls on countries to enhance their commitments over time. Moreover, the agreement provides a pathway for developed countries to assist developing countries in their climate mitigation and adaptation efforts while creating a framework for transparent monitoring and reporting on the countries' climate goals.
The Paris Agreement provides a permanent framework that will guide the global effort for decades to come with the aim of raising the ambition of the countries as regards the climate change. To reinforce this, the agreement provided for two reviews, each over a five-year period.
The climate conference “COP26” which was held in October 2021 was a test of what has been implemented from the Paris Agreement as it is the first review after the lapse of 6 years due to its postponement last year as a result of the spread of the Coronavirus.
The Paris Agreement had formally entered into force on November 4, 2016. Other countries continued to accede to the agreement while completing their national approval procedures. To date, 195 Parties have signed and 189 Parties have ratified the Agreement. In 2018, delegates to COP 24, hosted by Katowice, Poland, adopted a comprehensive rulebook clarifying the operational details of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement marks the beginning of a shift towards a low-carbon world - and much remains to be done. Implementation of the agreement is essential to achieving the sustainable development goals as it provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.
According to Laurent Fabius, who presented the final draft agreement in the plenary session of this conference, this agreement is appropriate, permanent, balanced and legally binding. It was ratified by all the delegations present on December 12, 2015.
The agreement aims to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees and seeks to limit it to 1.5 degrees. This was the biggest event ever as regards gaining the consent of that number of countries in one day ever. It primarily works on confronting the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, means of finding solutions for adaptation and mitigating its damage to the environment, seriously considering the obvious repercussions of climate change, and limiting the temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius; as the average global temperature rose by 0.85°C from 1880-2012.
The main objective of the Agreement is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that allows the ecosystem to adapt naturally to climate change; thus protecting human beings from the danger of food and water shortages, and allowing to move forward towards finding and creating means for sustainable economic development.
At the 2015 Paris Conference, it was emphasized for the second time that the developed countries, on their part, should commit themselves to mobilizing US Dollar 100 billion annually in favor of climate issues until 2020, and to continue mobilizing funding at another level until 2025, at a value of US Dollar 100 billion per year. One of the important issues that gained a focal point in the Paris negotiations is the fear of the negative effects of climate change which might occur sharply and quickly; thereupon, rapid plans must be developed to reduce its impact.
By July 2018, the number of signatories to the agreement reached 195, in addition to the European Union. 179 countries, in addition to the European Union, have ratified or acceded to the Convention. These countries are responsible for 87% of greenhouse gas emissions, and they include three of the four countries that emit the most greenhouse gases from the members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (42% of emissions).
A number of 194 countries signed the Paris climate agreement that was adopted in Paris at the conclusion of the 2015 climate summit, while the United States had finally announced its formal withdrawal from the agreement and started the procedures.
The administration of former US President Barack Obama had signed this agreement, pledging to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by around 26 to28 percent by 2025 compared to their 2005 levels.
World' Pledges in Paris 2015
The 194 countries that signed the "Paris Climate 2015 Agreement", including the United States of America, pledged a number of climate-related measures and decisions, including:
a- Stop Global Warming
The international community pledged to limit global warming to “below two degrees Celsius,” compared to the pre-industrial era, and to “follow up efforts to stop the temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
This imposes a severe reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by taking measures to reduce energy consumption, and invest in alternative energies and reforestation.
b- Review Pledges
One of the most important measures of the agreement is to put in place a mechanism for a five-year review for the national pledges which remain optional. The first mandatory review will take place in 2025, while subsequent reviews should see “progress”.
In 2018, a number of 194 countries have done the first evaluation for their social activities, on condition that their contributions will be reviewed in the current session.
c- Financial Support for the Countries of the South
Developed countries had pledged to offer an annual US Dollar 100 billion as of 2020 to help the developing countries move towards clean energy and to adapt with the global warming gas emissions which are their first victims.
Within the agreement, the developing countries also demanded that the annual one hundred billion dollars is only a "minimum amount", and a new goal will be proposed in 2025. In this vein, the developed countries refuse to pay the aids alone, and demand that other countries such as China, South Korea, Singapore and the rich oil countries would also contribute.
Losses and Redemptions
This means helping countries affected by global warming, when adaptation is not possible. This includes irreparable losses associated with the melt of the ice blocks or the rise in water levels.
The 2015 Paris Summit reinforces the international mechanism known as the Warsaw Mechanism, which its practical procedures still remain to be defined. This is a sensitive issue for developed countries, especially the United States, which fears of falling into legal accountability because of its "historic responsibility" for causing global warming. These countries have included a clause clarifying that the agreement "will not constitute a basis" for assigning "responsibilities or claiming redemptions."
Egypt's Vision in the Climate Issue
- All state-implemented projects, such as roads, energy, renewable energy, solid waste and sewage, are national projects closely related to adaptation and dealing with climate change.
- The importance of the role that Egypt plays as regards the international movements related to climate issues. Such a role began with the 2015 Paris Summit. Moreover, the Paris Agreement consolidated for several principles, the first of which is diligence to adapt to climate changes by reducing emissions and lowering global temperature, provided that this comes in consistence with the collective responsibility.
- All countries should bear responsibility as they bear the burdens, as without that collective responsibility which Egypt assumes, as the Egyptian citizen will be affected with the impact of the various development paths.
- If all countries do not address the danger of climate change, everyone will be affected. At the same time, if huge commitments are imposed on developing countries, then their development paths will be affected.
Egypt's Challenges as Regards the Climate Issue
- The international climate report issued in October 2018 - and is discussed at the climate summit that brings together world leaders with technical experts in Poland in December 2018 - concluded that the world has a short deadline of no more than 12 years in order to reduce its carbon emissions by specific rates so that the temperature of the universe do not rise more than 1.5 degrees.
- An increase in the temperature of the universe exceeding 1.5 degrees will lead to severe damage to our planet, represented in increased droughts and floods, sinking of vast areas of the coasts of many countries, an increase in the phenomenon of hunger and a decrease in agricultural production.
- The report also concluded that the United States, India and Saudi Arabia will be the most affected by climate change, and that Egypt will be one of the affected countries, as it faces many risks in three main areas.
First: Increasing the severity of drought, especially that 86 percent of Egypt’s lands fall within the driest areas worldwide, which means an increase in the dangers of desertification, drought and lack of water resources to the extent of water poverty, thus affecting the productivity of the agricultural land, as the rise in global temperature more than 1.5 degrees will prevent the germination of basic crops, primarily wheat.
Second: The rise of the Mediterranean Sea due to the melting of the ice of the two poles, thus threatening to drown vast inhabited areas of the northern coast, including 5 governorates: Port Said, Kafr El-Sheikh, Damietta, Beheira and Dakahlia, especially if the water level rose to more than 100cm, leading to the encroachment of the salt water under vast areas of the northern delta lands; which in turn leads to the salinity of the soil, deterioration of the quality of agricultural crops, loss of productivity and lack of food. Furthermore, Egypt will be more vulnerable to the spread of supererogatory diseases such as malaria, lymph nodes, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever. Although Egypt’s contribution to global warming is almost very limited as the volume of its carbon emissions cannot be compared to that of countries such as India, China, the United States or any of the European countries that consume huge amounts of thermal energy, yet Egypt is more affected by the phenomena of climate change than others, given its limited carbon emissions.
Third: According to the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation, the contribution of the international community in assisting Egypt carry out its responsibilities in facing the effects of climate change is very limited; not exceeding 31 and a half million dollars. This is represented in reducing coastal floods that threaten to drown 70 kilometers of Egypt’s northern coast, or stopping the encroachment of the salt water under the lands of the northern delta, thus threatening its fertility and agricultural productivity.
- Lack of water resources that could impact the new development projects of the Nile Basin countries, especially the Renaissance Dam project in Ethiopia or any other dams that Ethiopia is considering building on the Blue Nile without adequate consideration of the interests of the downstream countries, especially Egypt.
- Nevertheless, despite its many economic challenges, Egypt has no choice but to fight the battle against climate change, and to coordinate its efforts with the United Nations within the framework of an integrated plan based on linking climate change to the problems of water shortage, drought and desertification, in addition to integrating the efforts of the private sector and civil society with that of the state in addressing these new problems that could result in food shortages and exacerbate hunger problems.
- The necessity of displacing large numbers of people whose cities and lands could be submerged along 70 kilometers of the northern coast of Egypt, in addition to the danger of the salinity of lands that besiege large areas of the north delta which can be affected by the encroachment of salt water under its lands.
- Egypt's responsibilities in the issue of climate change are compounded by its important role in supporting Africa in the areas of energy and water that are related to climate change, especially since, over the past four years, Egypt assumed the responsibilities of defending the interests of the African continent in the issue of climate change.
Egypt’s Contributions in the Climate-related Conferences
“2019 UN Climate Action Summit”
The "United Nations Climate Summit 2019", which was held in New York on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations meetings in September 2019, highlighted the dangers of global warming, noting that greenhouse gas emissions have reached record levels and show no sign of stopping.
The Summit has confirmed that the last four years have been hotter, and the temperatures in the Arctic winter have increased by 3°C since 1990, which caused sea levels to rise and resulted in the death of coral reefs. It was also noted that there is a terrifying impact of climate change on the health and life on the planet.
The report of the 2019 Climate Action Summit made it clear that the impact of climate change is felt everywhere and have real consequences for people's lives. There is also a growing recognition that possible solutions which will enable everyone to move onto cleaner and more resilient economies now exist.
a- Egypt Places the File of Adaptation on the Priorities of Climate Change
During the participation of the Ministry of Environment in the Climate Summit 2019 in New York, Egypt confirmed that it succeeded in changing the international environmental action agenda for climate change and place the issue of the adaptation to the climate changes on the list of the priorities of the Climate Summit; especially with the accession of 107 countries to the political declaration submitted by Egypt in this respect.
The Ministry of Environment stressed that it is not only about preserving the environment and confronting climate changes, but what is currently happening in the world of hurricanes and floods due to rising temperatures and melting ice, demands us to abide by what is called adaptation to climate changes.
b- Egypt’s Political Declaration against Climate Change
Egypt had previously submitted a political declaration urging countries to put the file of adaptation to climate change among their priorities of funding, especially since 107 out of 190 countries joined the political declaration of Egypt in this regard, while 73 international organizations had also joined the declaration so as to make an extra effort to address the climate change.
Egypt, Biological Diversity Conference, and Adaptation Research Alliance
Egypt prioritizes the issues of climate change. This is evident in its current co-chair with Britain of the International Alliance, in addition to its presidency of the Conference on Biological Diversity. Egypt is also currently changing the international environmental agenda by placing the issue of adaptation on the priorities of the Climate Summit. Egypt’s presidency of the Conference on Biological Diversity and the Adaptation Alliance in August 2018 has proven its ability to have a global influence as regards the files of environmental work; in a manner that serves the interests of all countries. In this respect, Egypt clarified the relationship between biodiversity and climate change through her participation in many events and conferences in order to mobilize the necessary funding for this file.
The Conference achieved several achievements at the global, local and African levels. On the global level, the electronic platform "From Sharm El-Sheikh to Kunming for Nature and People" has been established, in coordination with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as an electronic platform to stimulate commitments and contributions to conserve biodiversity. Moreover, the global framework for biodiversity beyond 2020 and the vision until 2050 have also been applied, in addition to the preparation to the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), not to mention Egypt's accession to the Metz Charter out of its belief in the need to preserve biodiversity, as an essential element to achieve sustainable development. Likewise, the Egyptian initiative to enhance synergy and harmony between the three “Rio” conventions on climate change, desertification and biodiversity, using a nature-based approach has been established. In 2019, the Global Environment Facility had allocated US Dollar 865 million to support programs and projects that enhance consistency and synergy between Rio conventions.
The conference had also realized achievements at the African level, the most important of which is the development of the African Action Plan on Restoring Degraded Ecosystems and Lands, which aims to preserve the African lands and ecosystems, reduce or mitigate the effects of land and ecosystem degradation, reduce biodiversity loss, and combat land degradation and desertification. Moreover, during the 17th Session of the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN-17) in South Africa in 2019, the plan has been approved as an African commitment in line with the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 and the establishment of the African Negotiators on Biodiversity.
At the local level, Egypt has achieved many successes, including supporting the establishment and operation of an efficient and sustainable system for the network of nature reserves and biodiversity in Egypt based on economic rules, distinguished marketing and a positive role in the future of sustainable development. In this vein, two nature reserves (Ras Muhammed and Wadi Al-Hitan) are on the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas. Egypt’s successes also included the transition to a green economy in nature reserves with the state’s commitment in the 2019 Constitution to protect seas, beaches, lakes, waterways and nature reserves. Workshops were also held with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Electricity, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the General Authority for Fisheries Development, among others, to introduce biodiversity and the importance of the associated ecosystems in addition to its integration into the economic sectors. Furthermore, Egypt had also cooperated with a number of international companies operating in the petroleum sector to identify mechanisms for integrating biodiversity in the petroleum and mining sector and preparing a guideline for integrating biodiversity in the petroleum and mining sector.
Egypt Heads a High-Level Meeting for the Climate Change Coalition
The Minister of Environment, representing Egypt, participated in the high-level meeting of the climate change alliances, including the adaptation coalition which Egypt chaired in partnership with Britain. During this meeting, the Minister reviewed the Egyptian efforts to intensify international cooperation in this file, noting that Egypt had put forward 9 initiatives to confront climate change. The meeting was held in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, "Antonio Guterres" and 18 chairpersons of the nine coalitions of adaptation and resilience.
During the participation of the Minister of Environment, in the 2019 Climate Action Summit, which was held on the sidelines of the meetings of the 74th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly, she presented to the world the ambitious initiatives presented by Egypt to increase cooperation among the countries of the world regarding adaptation and facing the effects of climate change in the coming period, noting that Egypt places the African Adaptation Initiative on top of ambitious initiatives to confront climate change.
On the sidelines of her participation in the 2019 Climate Action Summit, the Minister expressed Egypt’s support and full commitment to the climate action within the framework of the Adaptation Action Coalition. This came during her meeting with her British counterpart, saying: “We have an ambitious set of initiatives that we need in order to fulfill the needs of adaptation and resilience, especially for the future. A clear plan is set to be implemented during the coming period which mainly depends on increasing the funding and support for the developing countries that are severely affected by climate change.''
During several meetings on the sidelines of the Climate Summit, the Minister clarified that Egypt always supports the international collective action, adding that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched the Africa Adaptation Initiative in 2015 during the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris. This Initiative urges the developed countries to fulfill their obligations towards the African countries by supporting them to face the effects of climate change which they suffer from. It also identifies the demands and concerns of the African countries, including the early warning system, obtaining finance, and developing national plans to adapt with the investment packages of the private sector.
Private Sector Participation, a Chance to Shoulder Responsibility towards the Planet
According to the opinions of the climate change experts, the Climate Action Summit is a good opportunity to address the climate change. They emphasized that the participation of the private sector comes within fulfilling their responsibilities towards the planet, the civil society, the students, the experts and the governments. It is also an opportunity for the countries to raise the bar in the field of adaptation to climate change and to increase their support and finance for the developing countries so as to enhance their capabilities to address the effects of climate change.
Egyptian Initiatives for Protecting the most Vulnerable from Natural Disasters
The Egyptian initiatives that were put forward on the ground are to protect the most vulnerable groups from the effects of natural disasters. This should be done through achieving the risk-informed early action partnership, which seeks to provide safety for more than one billion people around the world in facing the fierce climate changes, in addition to other initiatives related with the small farmers.
President El-Sisi Participates in 'Heads of State and Government on Climate Change'
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi participated in the “Heads of State and Government on Climate Change” meeting on 9/20/2021, via video conference, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, chaired by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and with the participation of a group of heads of state and government around the world and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The President’s participation came in light of the beginning of a new phase in the field of international climate action, as the negative repercussions of climate change are becoming a threat to humanity.
During the meeting, President El-Sisi stressed the importance of the developed countries assuming their responsibilities in reducing emissions as an implementation of their international commitments within the framework of the Paris Agreement and the Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially with the recent large-scale forest fires witnessed in various regions around the world; which confirmed that climate change has become a terrifying reality that calls for Immediate action to confront it.
El-Sisi had also stressed on the need to seriously deal with any unilateral measure that contribute to the exacerbation of the consequences of climate change, foremost of which is the construction of dams on international rivers without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries as regards the rules of their filling and operation. This comes within the framework of the efforts of dealing with the issues of adaptation to climate change, which represents a very important aspect in the international climate action and a top priority for the developing countries, especially Africa which suffers from the most severe repercussions of this phenomenon; represented in water scarcity, drought, desertification and a threat to food security.
President El-Sisi pointed to the importance of working towards reaching tangible results in the coming session of the UN Conference on Climate Change, under the presidency of the United Kingdom, October 2021, as regards financing the climate action and mechanisms, especially what is related with the efforts of adaptation and the Green Climate Fund, in a manner that would enhance the climate action in the developing countries and alleviate their burdens in this respect especially in light of the current gap in finance between the needs of those countries to fulfill their commitments and what is actually available.
President El-Sisi declared Egypt's aspiration to host the 27th Summit of Climate Change in 2022 on behalf of the African Continent, stressing that Egypt will work on making this session a radical transformation point in the climate action with the participation of all parties, in favor of the African Continent and the Whole World.
Egypt's Pivotal Role in facing the Effect of Climate Change and Unifying the African Front
The Egyptian political leadership believes that Egypt is an integral part of the Arab area and the African continent, thus it should perform a pivotal role in facing the effects of climate change and unifying the African front.
Egypt effortlessly works on enhancing the efforts of facing the climate change. This comes within a series of bilateral meetings that are supposed to be held on the sidelines of the preliminary consultations before The 26th Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, hosted by the Italian government in cooperation with the British government during the period September 30- October 2, 2021.
Patricia Espinoza declared her support to Egypt’s role in unifying the views of the African countries as well as working to resolve contentious points and unite the African fronts before the upcoming Cop 26 Climate Conference, which will be held in the United Kingdom, praising Egypt’s leading role in the region in confronting the effects of climate change, emphasizing the UN's support to Egypt in hosting the Climate Change Conference 'Cop 27' next year and working on making it a success.
Egypt asked to be a representative to Africa. in this vein, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched Africa Renewable Energy Initiative in Paris Conference, 2015, where Egypt is currently representing North Africa. In this vein, a committee related to climate change was formed of the African presidents. It is well known that the main reason behind climate change is the intensifying amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere; the gas which is emitted from the burn of petroleum and coal.
Egypt is exerting strenuous efforts as regards combating climate change and global warming. This includes for example the efforts of turning cars to work with natural gas, which has fewer emissions than benzene, in addition to performing pioneering experiments in the field of renewable energy from the sun and winds, and establishing Benban project for solar energy. Morover, the military factories produce solar cells due to its high exportation cost. Such experiments and projects can be exported to African countries. Egypt also manufactures the electrical car which will not need fossil fuel and can also export it to African countries. Furthermore, Egypt asked for hosting the climate change conference in 2022.
The role of Egypt in combating climate change has grown in the African continent through the two initiatives of President El-Sisi in the 21st Summit on Climate Change in 2015 that has been held in Paris, where he launched the Africa Adaptation Initiative and the African imitative of renewable Energy. The first Initiative included the sectors of agriculture, irrigation, water resources, tourism, industry, in addition to all other fields in which the adverse effects of climate change are disrupted. Such measures include a list of protective projects in such sectors, which need a huge international support. This was the first initiative to adapt with the repercussions of climate change. this includes for example the zones which face drought, thus introducing crops that can face draught. In the field of water resources, projects for waste storage and recycle should be implemented, in addition to projects for facing floods, winds and hurricanes. This initiative provided the resources for such measures which protect the African countries from the repercussions of climate change.
The second imitative concerning the renewable energy includes implementing a certain kind of projects that fight climate change from its roots; prevents the production of the global warming gases from the beginning. It includes the establishment of photovoltaic solar cell stations with a total capacity of 10,000 megawatts till 2020. This has actually been implemented in five African countries till 2020. The voltage of such stations is supposed to increase to 300,000 megawatt by 2030.
Egypt equips and supports the African countries with the necessary expertise, efficiencies and experiences which it gained since 1984, since it laid the first strategy for renewable energy along 30 years in favor of the African countries. Egypt has centers for training the African working force in the field of renewable energy, in addition to offering grants for the African poor countries.
On the international level, Egypt fully abides by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also has national strategies on climate change, rationalizing energy, new and renewable energy, in addition to the means of optimal handling to the wastes.
The Egyptian Participation in “COP26” Conference for Climate Change
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi participated in the 26th “UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) for the Heads of State and Government” that was held on the 1st and 2nd of November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. President El-Sisi’s participation fulfils the invitation of the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson whose country is the president of the current summit. This is in the light of the important role that Egypt plays on the regional and international levels within the framework of climate change negotiations.
The participants in the conference praised President El-Sisi’s speech during the climate summit in Britain. They explained that the President’s speech focused on national projects to confront climate change, mentioning at the same time that Egypt has a huge agenda of projects to combat climate change. Moreover, the developed countries demanded to provide $100 billion for the developing countries to face the repercussions of the climate change crisis.
On the margins of the climate change summit, the President focused on Egypt's national projects to face the effects of climate change, which include new and renewable energy, clean transportation, canal lining, and drainage water treatment projects. The President announced that the government- funded green projects will reach 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
During the summit's agenda, the President focused on topics of interest to developing countries in general, and African countries in particular, particularly on enhancing efforts to push forward international climate action. This is rather than underscoring the necessity of the industrial countries’ commitment to their pledges within the framework of Paris Agreement and stressing Egypt’s willingness to host the coming climate change summit in 2022.
The President assured that Egypt had taken the initiative to implement projects aimed at reducing emissions and transitioning to clean transportation. He also stated that Egypt has finished the preparation of the 2050 strategy, which will aid in the recovery from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. He continued that Egypt is aware of the challenges that the developing countries are facing and assured that the developing countries’ implementation of their commitments is conditioned by the amount of support they receive. He also aspires that the coming summit will be in Egypt in the African continent.
A-The Issues Discussed in the COP Conference
Climate change confrontation finance emerged as one of the most challenging issues of COP26. Developing countries, which have contributed the least to emissions levels, are demanding the developed countries to fulfill their pledges to provide $100 billion per year to help them reduce emissions and adapt to the severe effects of climate change. Another issue expected to come up is how to assist countries already experiencing loss and damage due to climate change.
Second: Carbon Markets
All components of the Paris Agreement’s so-called rulebook—the guidelines for how to implement the agreement—have already been agreed upon, except for Article 6. That section deals with how to develop and implement so-called international carbon markets, which allow for the trading of emissions-reduction credits.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting COP26, has called on developed countries to stop using coal—a major source of emissions—by 2030 and for other countries to phase it out by 2040. However, discussions on coal have already been contentious. Earlier this year, the Group of Seven (G7) failed to agree on a date to stop using coal. China and India, which in recent weeks have suffered energy crises partly due to coal shortages, have also resisted committing to eliminating coal.
Leaders will formally pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, a goal that was unveiled by the United States and the European Union in September. More than 12 countries have already signed the agreement. The world’s top methane emitter, China, has not yet joined.
The commitments that governments pledged during COP26 are ambitious enough to prevent temperatures from rising 1.5°C or even 2°C. Moreover, COP26 paved the way for negotiations that will continue both within the COP conferences and outside. Climate change was a major topic at future multilateral summits, such as those of the G7 and Group of Twenty (G20), and inside national governments.
The world’s leaders seek to put an end for the planet’s temperature rise. Alok Sharma, the President of “COP 26” announced during the opening session on October 31, 2021that this summit is their “last best hope” to limit warming to below1.5°Cwhich is the most ambitious aim in Paris Agreement. He added that the coming two weeks are critical for the humanity’s future stressing that climate change effects emerged in the entire world in the shape of “floods, cyclones, wildfires and record temperatures”. He followed: “we know that our shared planet is changing for the worse” referring that climate change continued during Covid 19 pandemic that postponed COP26 by a year and added: “And if we act now, and we act together, we can protect our precious planet”.
B- Egypt’s Plan to Reduce Emissions in COP26 Summit
Although its quota of carbon dioxide emissions does not exceed 0.68% of global production, Egypt’s permanent responsibility and full awareness of climate change dangers adopts an ambitious plan to reduce its emissions within the framework of the international ambitious plan to reduce emissions gradually to “zeroing”.
Egypt developed five clear strategic aims that coincide with the International Strategy for Sustainable Development “Egypt’s Vision 2030”. These aims focused on enhancing prosperity in the social, economic and environmental fields. Moreover, this strategy includes turning more for trolleybuses with low emissions as well as other transportation choices that work by compressed natural gas that is considered greener fuel for the environment than benzene.
During the period from September 1st to September 21st, 2021, no excess emissions were monitored from facilities' chimneys linked to the Industrial Emission Monitoring Network, which included 383 chimneys for 84 industrial facilities. Furthermore, the African continent's emissions profile does not exceed 4 to 5 % of global emissions, despite the fact that it is the most affected continent by climate change, suffering from desertification, water scarcity, and a rise in the earth's temperature, which has a negative impact on many sectors.
Climate change has become a pressing concern for Egypt that recorded one of the most severe heat waves in August until now. This is when heat temperature raised during day to more than 40 degrees for a week in early August that leads to take accelerated repercussions to address emissions and climate change. In 2019, Egypt issued 246.64 million tons of carbon with a slight reduction than its peak in the previous year by 251.46 million tons that represented 0.68 % of global production at a rate of 2.46 tons of carbon for every person.
Arising out of Egypt’s seriousness in dealing with this crisis, the World Bank agreed to provide Egypt with a $ 200 million grant to address the environmental issues. The aim of the initiative was to improve the quality of air through reducing air pollutants and carbon emissions that contribute in the phenomena of global warming.
Juergen Voegele, the Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank praised the Egyptian performance as he said: “It seems encouraging to see countries like Egypt have clarity, insistence and political power to translate ideas related to climate into a tangible reality… it affects all society levels and ways of livelihood, especially in the region”.
Moreover, Frans Timmermans, the Vice President of the European Commission for Climate Change praised Egypt‘s significant interest in climate change issue as he assured that Egypt plays a prominent role in this field and proved to be a true pioneer on the path of sustainability and development.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was in a virtual meeting with Heads of State and Government regarding climate change on the margin of the 76th UNGA and called for the necessity of dealing seriously with any unilateral actions that contribute in accelerating climate change consequences. He added: “This comes within the framework of the adaptation of climate change that represents highest priority for developing countries, particularly the African continent”.
It should be noted that Egypt will host the United Nations' upcoming COP 27 climate conference next year on behalf of Africa. The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, will embark on a tour following the Glasgow conference that will conclude in Egypt, which will take over the UN climate presidency from Britain next year. "In this critical decade of climate action, the next 12 months are expected to witness significant cooperation between the United Kingdom and Egypt," said Chris Fitzgerald, Deputy Private Secretary to Prince Charles.
Egypt's Road to COP 27 and the Steps It Has Taken to Transition to a Green Economy
Egypt is taking rapid steps to meet the demands of environmental integrity, climate conservation, and the transition to a green economy. This is in the light of increasing the dangers that threat the Earth and the efforts of States to work together to face them. Egypt's active participation in the UN Climate Change Conference "COP 26," in Glasgow, Scotland, October 2021, demonstrated the state's full awareness of this issue and its strategic direction for environmental conservation. This is done through launching the Egyptian Climate Change Strategy 2050 as well as moving towards green economy and environment- friendly enterprises as one of the targets of Egypt's Vision 2030.
Egypt begins the preparations to host the Climate Conference at its next session, "COP 27," in Cairo, by adopting many policies and programs that can be supportive and sustainable for environment in various sectors.
A- Government and Private Green Bonds to Guarantee Sustainable Finance for Budget and Enterprises
During his participation in the Climate Conference, President Abdel Fattah el- Sisi highlighted the importance of sustainable finance as one of the key dimensions to strengthen the efforts of environmental protection. This will happen in the light of the national and international commitments to protect the climate and to preserve the earth from the dangers of warming and the increasing of environmental challenges that all countries need to face together.
At the Conference, the President announced that Egypt had adopted a sustainable development model aimed at bringing the proportion of government green projects to 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2030. The declaration came as presidential directives for the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance to support and implement this approach by expanding the mechanisms for sustainable finance of the budget by increasing reliance on green bonds as a source of funding. In addition, the Central Bank has made efforts to increase the rate of financing public and private green enterprises via the Egyptian banking sector.
Egypt is one of the first countries in the region to enhance sustainable finance. It issued green bonds, the first of which was issued by the Ministry of Finance for $750 million, establishing Egypt as one of the countries that play a leading role in green development and becoming the region’s leader in the clean and environment- friendly investment community.
Egypt issued its first green bonds to the private sector through a partnership between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Commercial International Bank (CIB) with a value of LE 100 million for green energy enterprises and green buildings. This bond offering was described by Walid Labadi, the Regional Director of the IFC of Egypt, as opening the way for the green bond market in Egypt and encouraging other institutions to issue similar bonds.
The role of the banking sector in enhancing sustainable finance has been strongly effective and influential in supporting the State’s efforts and the President's vision for the expansion of the green economy. The Central Bank of Egypt has issued a set of guiding principles for the banking sector and banks operating in the Egyptian market to commit to sustainable finance. These principles set out the general framework to implement the sustainable finance in Egyptian banks and build human capacities in this area, adopt the most recent international standards and provide the necessary resources to implement these principles.
B-"Green Pyramid" Code … A New Standard for the Sustainability of Architecture
With the recent development of architecture and the emergence of many concepts of sustainable development, a new term of its kind has begun to emerge, and it has become more and more frequent, especially as the state has moved towards building sustainable smart urban communities and cities that will realize Egypt's Vision 2030. It is the term "green architecture," which is now the focus of the world's attention, especially after climate changes that directly affect buildings such as heat stress, moisture, pollution and global demands for environmental conservation and energy consumption. But before the world talked about this concept or demanded its application, Egypt was the maker of this civilization and the first country to use green architecture for thousands of years. The principles of this architecture are inscribed on the walls of the pharaonic temples of ancient Egyptians.
Egypt recognized the rights of future generations and promoted the quality of life. It passed Act No. 4 on the environment, 1994, and other steps that were culminated in 2030 Vision for sustainable development. The special draft on sustainability measurement of architecture and urbanism represented in the Green Pyramid Code has been made, which went through several steps from its presentation to the concerned scientists, researchers and sustainability partners at several levels until the Green Pyramid Code was released to achieve green building societies in 2020.
The document to classify the national system of green building in Egypt, the Green Pyramid Rating System (GPRS), was approved in Arabic in October 2021, under the auspices of the Housing and Building National Research Center (HBRC) and the Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities (MOHUUC), based on the extent to which they meet the requirements of the pyramid system.
These requirements are seven levels in varying proportions, which must be provided in construction, starting with the selection of the most suitable project site and studying the environment around the site, which is 10%, 28% for renewable energy efficiency, 30% for efficient water consumption and reuse, 12% for efficient use of available resources and building materials, 12% for indoor environmental quality, 8% for management and sustainability and 4% for design, construction and innovation, all of these levels achieve total point ratios parallel to 6 building evaluation levels.
The State is exerting clear efforts to mainstream these concepts and apply them in new cities to achieve sustainability in buildings and preserve the environment. We note that an important stage is currently being taken to define, raise awareness and prevail the importance of using the green pyramid in future designs and reconstruct the existing buildings. So, Egypt will realize what it aspires in achieving this aim, it will also prevail the “sustainable culture” and define the green pyramid on all levels to achieve Egypt‘s vision for sustainable development 2030. This will be done through dialogue sessions for those who are interested in sustainable development as well as activating and applying the green pyramid. Egypt will have its responsibility for the 27th Climate Conference and one of its tools is the Green Building and the use of the Green Pyramid in the Standard Building Codes.
C-Using of Clean Fuel to Reduce Emissions and a Hydrogen Manufacturing Strategy
The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Wealth encourages green investments, exploits and maximizes the returns on investment in the petroleum and mineral sectors by applying environmentally sound and sustainable practices in the sector. This is done through agreeing on plans and programs of action to ensure the achievement of these targets.
In the context of transition to sustainable development, Egypt is keen to develop awareness of the importance of environmental compatibility and to act in accordance with the environmental requirements of environmental law.
A strategy for the hydrogen industry in Egypt is being formulated through a ministerial committee in which the Ministry of Petroleum participates as a key member. This is rather than the ongoing contacts from the petroleum sector with world companies with considerable expertise in this field to explore cooperation opportunities. Pilot projects have been established in Egypt.
Egypt has initiated concrete steps to enter the hydrogen industry and produce it as a clean source of fuel referring that there is a constant communication and active participation in the different global events in this field.
The initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah el- Sisi to expand the use of natural gas as clean, economical and eco-friendly fuel for cars had significant results at various levels. It has already achieved economic, environmental and social returns. The total number of cars converted into natural gas was 369,000, including 165,000 cars during the financial year 2020-2021.The total number of car catering stations has reached 369, with a target of 400,000 cars, including conversion of 150,000 cars and 250,000 replacements through the initiative over a three-year period.
Over the past years, the Ministry of Petroleum has encouraged the expansion of gas consumption as clean fuel in order to boost green investment, where natural gas consumption has doubled to more than 20 times, reaching 47 million tons over the past financial year. In addition, electricity sector took over 60% of gas, and industry sector took over about 12%, while household gas consumption reached 6% during the year.
Egypt's target is to reach about 7% of domestic natural gas in the next financial year as a result of intensifying natural gas delivery projects. The total number of housing units connected to natural gas since the beginning of the activity has reached 12.3 million in 41 years, of which 50% have been connected in the last seven years.
D-Compatibility with Global Standards Is a Basic Goal … Environment-friendly Industrial Parks
Industry is one of the main factors affecting the transition towards a green economy, depending on clean energy, reducing emissions, reducing pollution, treating industrial wastewater, in order to reduce the environmental damage, expand in establishing of environment- friendly industrial parks and respect the agreed international and global standards.
Egypt is one of the countries that have begun to deal in a real way with the climate change crisis, especially in the industrial sector, where we need to reduce the impacts of climate change, not just adapt to it, and take advantage of technology to reduce environmental damage. In addition, we must apply the global environmental and sustainability standards especially that the European Union is in the process of implementing the “Green Deal” Agreement or the so-called Green Deal, which imposes export restrictions on environmentally incompatible goods. The Ministry of Trade and Industry was therefore seeking to bring Egypt's products into line with those standards so that they would not cause an obstacle to Egyptian exports. Egypt had come a long way in adapting many industries to environmental requirements. For example, cooperation with the United Nations had been undertaken through energy efficiency and solar energy projects to urge factories to use solar energy as one of the primary sources of energy. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is stepping up efforts to move towards clean industry. Among these efforts is the adoption of vehicle conversion and replacement technology for clean energy which is one of President El-Sisi’s important initiatives that is being applied and maximized.
The Presidential Initiative allocated LE 10 billion to turn 147,000 transport vehicles and microbus over a three-year period at a cost of 1 billion and 200,000 and to replace 240,000 vehicles at a cost of LE 53 billion. There is an ambitious plan to replace obsolete vehicles with a cost of about LE 250 billion, in coordination with finance agencies, the Central Bank, operating banks and some companies that provide affordable financing to these groups, as well as the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Development Agency, to improve the lifestyle of Egyptian citizens and supporting national industry.
E-Treating Rice Straw and Recycling of Wastes
The government is paying special interest to the environment and the transition to the green economy in the light of the extreme climate changes that are witnessed by the world. The Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Development Agency is working to integrate the environmental dimension with all its activities and projects, and even requires the financed enterprises to be environmentally friendly. Moreover, these enterprises must comply with the standards and requirements for the protection of the environment and the green transition, by sharing experiences and knowledge with national, regional and international organizations working in the field of environmental protection, and by encouraging donors to support environmental projects and programs implemented by the “Green Economy” Agency.
One of the most important projects funded for the environmental conservation by the Enterprise Development Agency is the development and replacement of primitive coal dumps, the collection and press of rice straw, the collection and chop of cotton wood, maize and agricultural crops, the generation of biogas, and the project of recycling electronic wastes, as well as new and renewable energy (Solar Energy).
The Enterprise Agency has prepared a series of studies, action plans and guides relevant to the protection of the environment. The coal dumps project aimed at legalizing the conditions of the owners of the primitive coal dumps, which its number reached to 1000 and more that spread throughout the republic, and replacing them with advanced ovens to produce high-quality charcoal,(exported abroad), which protects the environment from polluting emissions from primitive dumps.
The Enterprise Development Agency continues its efforts in the green economy by participating in the reduction of the burning of rice straw with the aim at reducing the environmental consequences of the burning of rice and agricultural wastes (the black cloud that covered the sky of Great Cairo). The agricultural waste system is funded by the rice straw collectors, cotton wood, maize, wheat hay, cane and other agricultural wastes. This is in order to treat the black cloud problem, by financing part of the purchase value of a piston, agricultural tractor or pickpocket machine. The maximum funding for a single project is LE 2 million; additionally, the maximum funding for electricity generation projects using renewable energy is LE 10 million.
Egypt to Host Climate Conference COP27 Next Year
Egypt is scheduled to host COP27 next year, among Egypt's preparations to host the Climate Conference next year:
-To put mechanisms for choosing the climate action champion, his activities to be taken into account when Egypt chooses the climate action champions.
-To raise the ambition, finance, the link between the actions to face the impacts of climate change and the business community, stimulate investment in climate action and mechanisms to attract the private sector.
1- President Sisi launched the initiative to link the three conventions during the opening of Egypt's presidency of the Biological Diversity Conference. We are working with several funding institutions to implement the initiative's activities and to prepare a framework for the post- 2020 biodiversity road map, which will be approved next year.
2-The Prime Minister assumed the presidency of the National Council for Climate Change as a membership of all relevant ministries and sectors.
3- Working on the National Climate Change Strategy and the National Adaptation Strategy.
4- Participating with the private sector, youth and civil society, as well as taking innovative actions for confrontation, encourage them to adopt climate solutions and provide more funding and actual action.
5- Linking between climate change and biodiversity as it was an important theme that Egypt is keen to highlight during its presidency of the Biodiversity Conference.
6-Egypt has completed its efforts to support the African continent in the climate negotiations and in Paris Agreement and has reached the two African initiatives on adaptation and renewable energy.