Egypt is on the path to setting up a more sustainable economy, reducing the fossil fuel footprint, and tackling the climate crisis and its related issues, said Frans Timmermans, the European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal.
Timmermans was responding to a question by Ahrp0am Online on how the European Union (EU) perceives the recent announcement that Egypt has been nominated to host the UN’s climate change conference (COP27) in 2022.
Timmermans spoke on Monday with a number of Egyptian journalists on the sidelines of the second ministerial conference of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) held in Cairo on environment and climate action under the co-presidency of Jordan and the EU.
“I welcome this ambition. I think Egypt is well placed to host the COP27 in 2022 and the country has the political capability to play a major role in this,” Timmermans told Ahram Online.
“We need to speed up climate action, especially in developing countries, including Egypt. We have to come clear on what we promised under the Paris Agreement on climate action, to allocate $100 billion in support of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change. The EU provides one-third of the total of this financing,” he said.
On financing climate action in Egypt, Timmermans told Ahram Online that this will not be achieved solely through public funds.
“We absolutely need to mobilise private investments on a huge scale in this regard by setting incentives for investors to invest more in green projects and adopting technology in all projects, which will definitely streamline investors' work and encourage them to engage in the transition process,” he said.
On the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations, Timmermans said that there is a risk of water scarcity because of climate change.
“I believe there is ample space for common ground, so nobody needs to suffer. This will depend on the diplomatic skills of both countries to deal with this issue, and I honestly believe that the two countries can reach this common ground, through which the two sides can profit and everybody can have access to water,” Timmerman explained.
Timmermans represented the EU in the UfM’s second meeting, hosted by Cairo on Monday, alongside Jordan's Environment Minister Nabil Masarweh and Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad. Also attending was Secretary-General of the UfM Secretariat Nasser Kamel.
This second UfM Ministerial Conference comes a few weeks ahead of COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, and following a summer dominated by climate and environmental emergencies across the region.
During the conference, ministers acknowledged the urgency of taking action and reasserted a firm ambition to tackle climate and environmental challenges through the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 SDG agenda.
They also asserted the importance of mainstreaming environment and climate action, including in energy, industry, agriculture and transport, while mobilizing and scaling up resources to support the green transition.
Investments and sustainable finance also featured high on the agenda, as well as the need to step up action on adaptation and to reinforce the science-policy nexus.
Moreover, the ministers reaffirmed the need to progressively reduce the use of fossil fuels while ensuring a just transition and engaging all stakeholders in environmental and climate policy-making as well as the importance of supporting women and youth engagement in building resilience and driving the green transition.
The UfM Secretariat was mandated to support the implementation of the objectives of this declaration and monitor the progress through its Environment and Climate working group.
During the event, the UfM held a joint event with the United Nations Development Programme on Biological Diversity, Ecosystem Restoration and Food Systems, in a bid to establish the first steps to implement the recommendations outlined in the ministerial declaration in this specific area.
“The climate crisis is existential for all of humanity – it transcends borders and politics. Building a sustainable future for all citizens across the Mediterranean is our shared responsibility. It is time to act and fulfil the commitments we all made under the Paris agreement. Today we have set a bold and ambitious vision for a clean, competitive, resilient and inclusive Mediterranean. I hope our joint ambition is an example for other regions to follow,” Timmermans said during the conference.
The European Commissioner for the Environment Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius noted that countries of the Mediterranean share a rich natural heritage, and a common concern for the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
“We now have a renewed commitment to addressing these challenges together with an ambitious plan of action to protect the environment for future generations. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic gives us the opportunity to build back better and greener together,” he added.
Jordan's Environment Minister Masarweh said that the Mediterranean region is one of the biggest climate change hotspots, where temperature in the region warms 20 percent faster than the global mean temperature beside other environmental challenges that the region faces.
“Hence, we do not have the leisure of time, and we must collectively act fast. The Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Climate Action we adopted today forms an excellent basis for action, based on transition towards inclusive, circular, resilient, and green economies. More mobilisation of funds to south and south east countries is critical for fulfilling climate and environment actions and obligations,” he pointed out.