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Egypt announces plan to address climate change following heat wave

Egypt is devising a strategic national plan to address climate change amid a heat wave that swept through the country recently.
An Egyptian tea street vendor walks on a beach, Alexandria, Egypt, Aug. 01, 2019.

Egypt was hit by a severe heat wave in early August caused by climate change, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, thus prompting the Egyptian Ministry of Environment to announce that the state has adopted a 15-year strategic plan to address climate change.

Egyptian Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad said in a TV statement Aug. 11, “Egypt is ready to confront climate change because it is one of the most affected countries.”

In May 2019, the Egyptian government established the National Council for Climate Change to address climate change and to devise relevant public policies.

In December 2020, the Supreme Committee of the National Council for Climate Change held its first meeting headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly, who called on the council to prepare a general strategy to confront climate change, and to present the general framework of the strategy to the committee at its next meeting.

On Aug. 1, in conjunction with the heat wave that swept through Egypt, the Supreme Committee of the National Council for Climate Change held its second meeting during which Fouad presented the outline and objectives of the national strategy for climate change.

Fouad said, “The plan ensures the achievement of low emissions development in various sectors, the increase of renewable and alternative energy sources, and preservation of natural resources and green spaces.”

During the Aug. 1 meeting of the National Council for Climate Change, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a study on the strategies of 10 countries that are similar to Egypt in terms of weather and climate change, to benefit from their experience.

The Egyptian moves related to climate change were not limited to internal plans, but also extended abroad, as Egypt concluded several protocols and agreements with international organizations and developed countries.

In July, Egypt announced its readiness to host the UN Climate Change Conference COP 27 in 2022.

In June, Fouad held a meeting with UN Resident Coordinator for Egypt Elena Panova to discuss climate change cooperation. Fouad said, “Climate change has become a challenge for Egypt. Therefore, Egypt has taken serious steps to integrate climate change in all development sectors.”

Also in June, Madbouly met with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, who stressed "the US support for Egypt in its efforts to promote the use of renewable energy." Kerry said his country is encouraging American companies working in the field of renewable energy projects and electric cars to invest in Egypt, in the framework of Egypt’s commitment to environmental issues and climate change.

During a meeting between Madbouly and British prime minister’s envoy Alok Sharma in February, Egypt and Britain agreed to boost cooperation to face the challenges of climate change. 

In October 2020, the World Bank approved a $200 million project for Egypt to improve air quality, combat climate change and reduce emissions of air pollutants and global warming.

Egypt also agreed in September 2020 to join the Cyprus initiative aimed at coordinating joint climate action in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean regions, and discuss ways to establish a regional organization concerned with climate change that includes a number of countries in the region with similar climate challenges.

In 2018, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and the United Nations Development Program agreed on a $31 million project to support climate change adaptation in the northern coast area and the Nile Delta. Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati confirmed back then that “the grant supports efforts to cope with climate change to reduce floods in coastal areas on the northern coasts of Egypt due to rising sea levels and severe weather phenomena.”

He noted, "The incentives that the project will implement through the Egyptian Public Authority for Shore Protection will provide protection for critical low lying coastal areas, and establish an early warning and monitoring system to monitor changes in climate and sea levels.”

Religious institutions in Egypt also played a role in facing the repercussions of climate change. Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb tweeted July 25, “The recent flooding and record rise in temperatures around the world, which have caused hundreds of deaths and displaced many more, should reinforce the need for serious action toward combatting climate change and safeguarding humanity from this undeniable threat..” 

Al-Azhar University had established a committee for Community Service and Environmental Development, and one of its objectives is to set up an awareness program for university students about preserving the environment and introducing them to the climate change crisis.

Spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church Archbishop Moussa Ibrahim said in an Aug. 14 statement to Akhbar el-Yom news portal, “The church is working on many activities in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment to raise awareness about climate change and the importance of preserving the environment.”

Maher Aziz, an energy, environment and climate change consultant, told Al-Monitor, “Egypt realizes the importance of preparing to confront climate change and has therefore launched a number of strategies to adapt and respond to these changes.”

He said, “The National Council for Climate Change addresses all sectors to ensure compliance with the strategy to deal with climate change.”

Aziz noted, “The energy sector is the main sector included in the council’s strategy, as Egypt is moving toward total dependence on eco-friendly renewable and clean energy sources.”

He called on the government to intensify awareness campaigns for citizens to inform them of the risks of climate change and how to confront its effects, noting, "Egyptians have realized the importance of preparing to confront and adapt to climate change due to the severe heat wave that swept the country and affected several agricultural crops due to high temperatures.”

Aziz said, “Egypt is benefitting from all developed countries to obtain cutting edge technology across several sectors to protect the environment and curb the repercussions of climate change by ratifying protocols and agreements.”

He concluded, “Egypt represents African countries in international arenas and conferences related to climate change. Therefore, it has an important status in the international community. This facilitates its cooperation with international environmental organizations in climate change.”

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