“Put the political differences aside and come together to something that no country in the world disagrees on the need to move forward on,” Ambassador Wael Abul-Magd, special representatives of president-designate for COP27, said in a virtual press briefing on Wednesday to showcase Egypt's vision for the conference that is set to be held in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November.
Abul-Magd said Egypt’s vision to advance climate action at COP27 involves collaboration between governments, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders to focuses on the issues of adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, and climate finance.
He warned that the war in Europe would surely have an impact on the global effort to combat climate change, including by affecting energy and food prices and through the animosity that the military conflict is causing.
“We, as incoming presidency and hopefully, responsible diplomats, ask everyone to rise to the occasion and to show leadership,” Abul-Magd said, warning against using this unfolding geopolitical situation as a pretext for backsliding on climate pledges.
The ambassador also noted that COP27 is taking place amid two crucial problems - a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic on a global level and mounting tensions between the US and China who are two major players in climate action.
“We call on them to rise to the occasion and hopefully be able to find a way to move forward,” Abul-Magd stated in reference to the two major economic super powers.
Egypt has said it is hopes to turn climate pledges into actions on the ground during COP27, speak for Africa’s climate aspirations, and push countries to fulfil their climate finance pledges.
Mitigation and adaptation
Abul-Magd stressed that Egypt’s vision for COP27 in terms of mitigation focuses on the need to cut emissions dramatically, limit global warming to 1.5°C, and keep this goal within reach.
The ambassador called for encouraging countries to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement to ensure finding a pathway to achieve the 1.5°C objective.
Moreover, Abul-Magd called for expediting and expanding the model of Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), which was first signed at COP26 in Glasgow last November to support South Africa’s decarbonisation efforts.
“We’ve been telephoning and communicating with lots of countries, encouraging everyone to update their NDCs to show more ambition,” Abul-Magd stated, adding that around 18 countries have already updated their NDCs, while others made promises to do the same."
Abul-Magd also stressed that equal amount of work needs to be done on adaptation measures to protect countries and ecosystems from the impacts of climate change.
“We have to make a significant progress in COP27 on that… We need to help people across the globe to adapt to the actual damage that has occurred,” the ambassador affirmed.
“Mitigation will hopefully reduce our need for future adaptation but urgent adaptation measures have to be addressed now,” he added.
Climate finance, private sector
The world has “huge gaps” when it comes to emissions reduction, adapting to climate change, and the cross-cutting issue of finance, Abul-Magd noted.
“We cannot continue on an extremely adversarial trajectory. We need to find creative ways to come up with finance,” Abul-Magd said.
He affirmed the need to encourage the private sector to invest in climate projects, adding that the world is in need for preparing bankable projects that will attract trillions of dollars.
Abul-Magd, however, noted that the private sector would provide much-needed funding mostly for emissionreduction projects, leaving adaptation needs behind. “We need to be creative in our thinking on how we will provide finance for adaptation,” he stated.
Regarding mitigation, every government has to dig into its own national treasury to find resources to support climate action in this regard, Abul-Magd said.
He shed light on the tested model for investments to reduce emissions, including investment in renewables, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
“Adaptation is quite different, so we need to be creative, fair, and equitable when we look at finance, especially regarding adaptation,” the ambassador affirmed.
Abul-Magd underscored the obligation on developed countries to provide climate finance, stressing that public monies, however, are not going to be a solution alone.
“We are talking about $200+ trillion required by 2050, so we need to mobilise public money, utilise it again to leverage private money and private investments,” the ambassador affirmed.
Addressing loss and damage
Abul-Magd highlighted the need to also address the important issue of loss and damage, which focuses on delivering assistance to countries suffering from the consequences of extreme weather events because of climate change.
“It is a very sad situation that the issue of loss and damage has lagged behind for so long,” Abul-Magd said, “We, at COP27, need to work together to show leadership and move forward on addressing this very important issue.”
This is particularly important when it comes to finding a creative and acceptable way to find financing for countries that are in extreme need to address the immediate losses and damages that wipe out a significant part of their annual GDP in one single event, the ambassador added.
Egypt is putting a lot of effort in negotiations to ensure that the loss and damage issue is moving forward, Abul-Magd said.
Engaging civil society
The ambassador affirmed the Egyptian COP27 presidency’s keenness to engage civil society, including science, youth, and gender communities as well as activists along with other stakeholders, in the activities of the conference.
“We don’t believe in tokenism,” Abul-Magd said. “We are involving these stakeholders across the board in every step of the way.”
He stressed that the negotiations are always going to be the domain of the government, as it is a country-driven process. However, implementation would be “meaningless and futile without all stakeholders on board."