Weathering climate change

Ahmed Kotb , Tuesday 9 Nov 2021

Egypt launches its climate change strategy against the backdrop of COP26.

Weathering climate change
Weathering climate change

COP26, which is taking place in the Scottish city of Glasgow, kicked off on 31 October and ends on 12 November.

The conference has so far witnessed promises by world leaders to end deforestation by 2030. Trees play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide and forests act as carbon sinks, a term used to describe an area that absorbs large amounts of carbon emissions.

The US and the EU both signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, an international initiative put forward by 90 states that seeks to reduce emissions of the climate heating gas by 30 per cent by 2030.

More than 40 countries have also agreed to shift away from coal, though some coal-dependent states, including China, India and the US, have not signed up. Limiting the burning of coal is critical in reducing global temperature rises.

The International Energy Agency says that the full implementation of all the net-zero pledges and the Global Methane Pledge by signatories will limit global warming to 1.8 oC by 2100.

Extreme weather events linked to climate change, including heat waves, floods, drought and forest fires, are intensifying, and record temperatures have been recorded in recent years.

In 2015, 197 countries signed the Paris Agreement which aimed to keep global warming below 2 oC, and to aim for 1.5 oC, in order to avoid a climate catastrophe. It means countries have to keep cutting emissions and reach net zero by 2050. This will require radical changes in industry, transport, agriculture and construction.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) repot, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, released in August, was a wake-up call for immediate action to avoid what it described as the catastrophic warming of the planet. The report warned of more extreme weather events, including extended heat waves, droughts, floods and higher sea levels that will affect people living in coastal areas. It highlights the urgent need for nations to accelerate plans to de-carbonise and transition to renewable energy resources.

The US announced the Net Zero World Initiative, a new partnership between countries working to implement their climate ambition pledges and accelerate transitions to net zero. According to a press statement, countries committed to raising their climate ambitions will work through the initiative to create and implement tailored, actionable technology road maps and investment strategies that place net zero within reach.

Tarek Al-Molla, Egypt’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources, said during the launch of the Net Zero World Initiative that Egypt is following an ambitious strategy that supports the transition to cleaner energy and the reduction of carbon emissions as part of its vision for sustainable development, Egypt 2030.

The strategy, he said, currently has three priorities: the expansion of the use of natural gas as a more environmentally friendly transitional fuel; the preparation of a national strategy to expand the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel, and developing a network of renewable energy.

Cutting emissions and adapting to climate change will be expensive. At the 2009 UN climate summit rich nations promised to allocate $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change, a target that has not been met. And even the target looks paltry compared to recent estimates of the costs involved. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says between $1.6 and $3.8 trillion are needed annually simply to transform energy systems by 2050.

Business leaders and financial institutions have pledged to invest more in net zero-aligned projects during COP26, and the 450 organisations that control $130 trillion – an estimated 40 per cent of global private assets – have said they will support clean technology, mainly in the renewable energy field.

Ways to compensate less developed countries for the loss and damages they have incurred because of richer countries emissions remains a moot point. African nations are pushing for a $700 billion climate finance deal, though agreement had not been reached before Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, and COP26 closes on Friday.

Meanwhile, Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s minister of environment, announced the launch of the National Climate Change Strategy 2050 as part of Egypt’s participation in COP26. She said the strategy will enable Egypt to support the goals of Vision 2030, and effectively address the effects and repercussions of climate change, by adopting a flexible, low-emission approach.

The strategy targets sustainable economic growth through increasing the share of renewable and alternative energy sources, maximising energy efficiency, improving the efficiency of thermal power plants, transmission and distribution networks, and adopting sustainable consumption and production trends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It aims to build resilience and adaptability to climate change by protecting natural resources and ecosystems, preserving state resources and assets from the effects of climate change, improving infrastructure, implementing disaster risk reduction concepts, and establishing early warning systems.

The strategy, said Fouad, envisages improving the governance and management of work in the field of climate change by defining the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in order to achieve strategic goals. It requires improving the infrastructure for financing climate change projects, and the promotion of scientific research, technology transfer, knowledge management, and awareness to combat climate change.

Innovative financing tools such as green bonds will be introduced, alongside conventional financing instruments such as soft loans and grants from multilateral development banks, and a national verification system will be established to monitor all forms of climate action.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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