Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1252, (25 June - 1 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Preparing for the Paris climate talks

Only international efforts can address the effects of climate change. In this, Egypt has a key role to play, having influence in Africa and the Arab region, writes Ambassador James Moran

Al-Ahram Weekly

17 June is Climate Action Day. Voltaire said, “Men argue. Nature acts.” When it comes to climate change, now more than ever we need to take a leaf out of nature’s book and act together.

The international community is working for a new global climate deal in Paris at the UN global climate conference in December. Countries are expected to come forward with their contributions well in advance of the event, so all of us can agree on a robust and dynamic deal fit for present and future purposes, with the overriding aim of keeping the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.

Contributions need to be as ambitious as possible and reflect parties’ responsibilities and capabilities. The level of commitment from the G20 countries that account for 75 per cent of global emissions will be decisive, as will the offers from other major countries, like Egypt.

 The EU was the first major international entity to submit its contribution to the new agreement. Already, many countries, including key players such as the US, China and Mexico, have followed.

It is clear that the Paris deal must also deliver more than simply reducing emissions. We need to be ready to support those who are most vulnerable to climate change and those who lack the means to cope with its negative consequences. And we need to push forward cooperation on adapting to climate change.

 

THE THREAT TO EGYPT: Even with a two-degree Celsius rise in temperature, Egypt will most likely be seriously affected by climate change, particularly because of the large increase in projected heat extremes, substantial reduction in water availability and associated negative effects on agricultural productivity and general welfare. About a third of the land could be affected.

Crop yield declines, coupled with climate impacts in other grain-producing regions would contribute to higher food prices. Population increases and a growing dependency on the importation of food will worsen the impact.

Deteriorating rural livelihoods could spur internal and international migration, adding further stress on urban infrastructure, with associated risks for poor migrants. Migration- and climate-related pressure on natural resources, especially water, might also undermine social stability.

A rise in the sea level caused by global warming will also threaten heavily populated coastal areas, notably Alexandria and the Nile Delta.

 

EGYPT’S LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE: The importance of Egypt for achieving a meaningful deal at the Paris Climate Summit is indisputable. Egypt is both one of the largest economies and the largest net producer of emissions in the region.

Egypt also chairs the African Ministerial Conference for Environment (AMCEN) and has an important role in the group of Arab countries in climate negotiations.

The minister of environment and his team are actively supporting and driving the process to build the capacity of Egypt and of other African countries and coordinating their approach to climate negotiations in preparation for Paris.

I very much hope that Egypt will soon be able to submit its national proposals for Paris, not only because of its own importance but also because, given its leadership role, it could pave the way for others in the region and the African continent. Given the time needed to complete the complex and demanding global negotiations ahead of the summit, time is now running short.

I am confident that such efforts will be fully complemented by the Green Climate Fund, which is currently in the making and received the resounding support of the G7 countries meeting in Germany last week, where a strong commitment to climate finance of $100 billion per annum was made by leaders.

 

EU ACTION IN EGYPT: The EU has announced it will devote at least 20 per cent of its global development assistance funding to climate action. In Egypt we already do significantly more than that, with over a third of our assistance directed to the problem.

Adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change are important priorities for our assistance programme. Over 400 million euros of current EU grant assistance in Egypt is climate-relevant, and part of this has also helped leverage additional concessional loans from the European Investment Bank and other EU development banks of some 4.65 billion euros. A number of EU member states are also involved, through various bilateral programmes.

We are working throughout the country, supporting renewable and clean energy, energy efficiency, transport, sanitation, water and waste management, pollution abatement, housing and agriculture.

Our assistance in the water sector also focuses on a climate-relevant integrated approach to water resources management. There are other adaptation programmes covering areas such as energy efficiency in the housing sector, integrated coastal zone management, agriculture and disaster risk reduction.

We are fully committed to doing our part to meet this enormous challenge and are working towards for a successful conclusion in December and the enhanced efforts on the ground that will follow.

In short, Paris is an historic opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. In our joint interest, and above all for the good of all our children, we must rise to the challenge. Joining forces with Egypt and the world at large is the only way to move forward.


The writer is head of EU Delegation to Egypt.

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