Conjuring international climate action in countdown to COP27

Mahmoud Bakr , Friday 9 Sep 2022

Egypt is intensifying efforts for climate action in the run-up to the UN COP27 Climate Conference, notably at meetings in Indonesia and Chile last week.

Conjuring international climate action
Fouad with Kerry


Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, the ministerial envoy and coordinator of the UN COP27 Climate Conference to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November, participated in the Joint Environment and Climate Ministers’ Meeting (JECMM) of the G20 group of countries in Bali, Indonesia, last week, on behalf of the foreign minister, the designated president of the conference.

The participants discussed regional and global environmental and climate-related challenges and their impacts on developing nations and tried to reach consensus on measures to address them.

The meeting was an opportunity to generate momentum towards the implementation of bold and urgent actions to address the interconnected global challenges of climate change, biodiversity attrition, pollution, desertification and land degradation, unsustainable modes of consumption and production, and the transition to clean energy, Fouad said.

Three major topics topped the agenda: the sustainable recovery, enhancing land and marine environmental protection measures, and strengthening cooperation in the mobilisation of resources to accelerate environmental and climate action.

 Fouad said that nature-based solutions were discussed because they are fundamental to international efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to address the major social, economic, and environmental challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation, as well as food and water security, natural disaster response, human health, and ecosystem services.

She underscored how important it is to bear in mind the human dimension of climate and environmental action and, above all, the needs of local communities and vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Fouad said that Egypt was fully prepared to host the participants at the COP27, underscoring Egypt’s determination to help accelerate the pace of climate action and achieve progress on all negotiating tracks.

Egypt would encourage discussions to reach effective agreements on mechanisms to ensure progress in reaching global climate-adaptation goals, in meeting the new climate-action financing goals, and in compensating for damage caused by climate change by activating the Santiago Network, a network of developing countries, in a fair and effective manner.

Fouad urged the G20 members to fulfil the pledges they made at the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris to commit $100 billion a year in climate funding to the developing nations.

Much more funding for climate adaptation was needed, she said, and she called on the G20 countries to develop new funding plans to help developing nations with climate-adaptation and mitigation efforts. She reminded the participants that more than 80 per cent of harmful emissions come from the G20 nations themselves.

On the sidelines of the JECMM meeting, Fouad met with John Kerry, the US presidential envoy on climate affairs, to discuss prospects for cooperation between Egypt and the US in the context of Egypt’s preparations to host the COP27.

Fouad said that the meeting had dealt with ways to support Egypt through the national investment platform for green projects and climate action, known as the Nexus of Water, Food, and Energy (NWFE).

This is a national programme for carrying out domestically identified projects, most notably one aiming to replace 17 gas-powered power stations with solar or wind-powered ones with capacities of up to 10 Gigawatts (GW).

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and several donor agencies are currently studying the project, expected to cost around $10 billion, part of which would be funded by a grant and the rest by facilitated loans and private-sector investments.

The minister said that the US-Egyptian agreement and funding from the EU and international donors would be announced at the Sharm El-Sheikh conference.

She spoke of how renewable energy projects and agriculture, food, and water complement each other. A project for a solar-powered water desalinisation plant could be an opportunity to encourage private-sector investment in crops capable of adapting to the effects of climate change, for example.

The meeting with Kerry also dealt with the possibility of a US role in supporting the agricultural initiative that Egypt will launch during the conference, as well as its anticipated outputs, especially those pertaining to the climate-mitigation programme that will be the subject of a resolution adopted in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Mitigating the damage resulting from climate change will be high on the conference agenda, and clear results are of the essence.

Kerry welcomed the Egyptian initiatives and preparations for the Conference, affirming his support for Egypt’s efforts to make it a success. Egypt is among the nations taking the right path to the green transition that means more green jobs, he said, adding that he hoped the world would unite to take on the global challenges of climate change.

He expressed his interest in Egypt’s solar-powered project and the possibility of US assistance and funding for the Egyptian agricultural initiative that will be unveiled at the conference.

The NWFE was designed through close collaboration between the relevant ministries and technical agencies and in conformity with Egypt’s National Strategy for Climate Change 2050 and Nationally Determined Contributions Plan 2030.

The result is a package of programmes and projects that will support the linkage between energy, water, and food.

Meanwhile, in a speech via video linkup to the closing session of the Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on Financing Climate Action and the Energy Transition, Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change high-level champion for Egypt, stressed the need to bring climate action policies into harmony with the SDGs.

The event was hosted by Chile and attended by Ambassador Wael Abul-Magd in his capacity as special representative of the Egyptian president for the COP27.

In his speech at the Regional Forum, Mohieldin urged closer adherence to the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Plan for 2030 to make national budgets more conducive to the climate action agenda.

He praised the discussions taking place during the Latin American Forum, which he described as an effective step towards fruitful partnerships in developing and carrying out viable climate action policies and projects that engage the input of many diverse experts.

These efforts would help the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh succeed, he said, noting that regional forums in Africa and Asia have proposed 39 promising projects.

On the participation of international financial institutions in funding climate action, Mohieldin stressed the need to focus on funding efficacy and the speed with which it reaches it intended recipients.

He cautioned against a continued reliance on loans as a funding instrument, saying that the history of Latin America and many Third World economies testified to the problems that could arise due to loans, as has also been amply illustrated by the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.

He said there were many promising opportunities for investment in climate action, a subject that will be discussed at greater length in the coming weeks during the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The Latin American Forum was convened in the framework of a pioneering initiative to mobilise investments for climate action. It is one of five major regional meetings, the first of which was African and took place at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on 2 to 4 August.

The second forum was held in Bangkok at the headquarters of the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific region on 25 August. Beirut will host the fourth forum for the Arab countries on 15 September at the headquarters of the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, and the fifth will be held in Geneva in October at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Europe.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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