Together on climate change

Svend Olling, Tuesday 2 Nov 2021

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow is an opportunity for all of us to come together to combat climate change, writes Danish Ambassador to Cairo Svend Olling

The COP26 meeting, the most important climate conference since the Paris Conference in 2015, is currently underway. For Denmark, it is essential that we fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement and reduce emissions to limit the world’s rise in temperature to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. The COP26 meeting is an opportunity to get on track: all countries need to commit to adopt more ambitious emission-reduction targets.

Denmark has a national target to reduce its emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. Yet, if other countries stick to their current official climate targets – the Nationally Determined Contributions – it will lead to a catastrophic 2.7°C global temperature rise. That will mean rising sea levels and more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and storms across the globe.

The evidence is clear: we need more ambition by countries now.

Egypt is a great example, with the oldest country in the world making impressive progress in the green-energy transition over recent years. Egypt has been taking the lead on the green-energy transition in the region, particularly with its intention of hosting the COP27 meeting and aim to reach 20 per cent of renewable energy by 2022 and 42 per cent by 2035.

However, there is still a lot to be done, and Egypt is also a unique case of the possible repercussions of climate challenges. The Nile Delta hosts 95 per cent of the Egyptian population and is severely threatened by sea-level rises, according to UN Development Programme (UNDP) data, while the need for water is growing rapidly.

Denmark commends Egypt on the important leadership it has displayed in hosting the COP27 meeting, and we are looking forward to this opportunity to engage and support Egypt on its ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Climate change is global, yet its impacts are skewed. The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is a stark reminder of the challenges facing humanity. Even at 1.5°C global warming, there is a need to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, such as building houses and infrastructure that can survive extreme weather, planting new crops that can withstand the heat, and improving weather forecasting to predict storms and floods.

Furthermore, adaptation remains the neglected half of the climate equation, accounting today for only 25 per cent of climate finance in support of the developing countries. That is why Denmark has committed to spend 60 per cent of its grant-based climate finance on adaptation from 2022. We openly ask other developed countries to step up and join us.

The Danish-Egyptian partnership is an excellent example of a long-standing and meaningful partnership in renewable energy and energy transition. Our climate partnership with Egypt goes back to the 1980s, when the Danish Development Cooperation DANIDA began working with Egypt in the early days of Danish climate cooperation from 1980 to 2005, along with its Environmental Sector Programme (ESP) in the 1990s and 2000s.

In cooperation with the Risø National Laboratory at the Technical University of Denmark, Egypt developed its first Wind Atlas in the 1990s, which is still in use today. The Danish Sustainable Infrastructure Fund was one of the major contributors to the financing and development of the Zaafarana Wind Farm in Egypt in the 2000s. This onshore wind farm is still operating today and is one of the largest such power plants in Egypt.

The energy partnership between Egypt and Denmark resumed in 2019, with bigger targets and larger ambitions through Strategic Sector Cooperation on renewable energy for technical cooperation and the sharing of Danish experience between the Danish Energy Agency and the Egyptian ministries of Electricity and Renewable Energy and International Cooperation particularly on the integration of renewable energy, specifically wind energy, into the power system. The cooperation focuses on long-term energy planning, wind project development and the integration of renewable energy in the power grid, including the liberalisation of the power market.

This partnership has the high-level support of the Danish government with a view to ensuring a solid basis for the transfer of knowledge and experience to support Egypt’s green-transition journey.

Denmark is committed to giving our fair share. We will provide at least $500 million annually by 2023 in grant-based climate finance and commit to spend 60 per cent of our grant-based climate finance on adaptation from 2022. At the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, the world’s developed countries promised the developing countries $100 billion a year in climate finance. We have a responsibility to increase individual pledges so that we can collectively deliver the promised amount. Recent Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures clearly indicate that we are not there yet.

Keeping our promise from Copenhagen is vital to building trust and ensuring the optimum circumstances for a successful COP26. We are proud to announce that our embassy in Cairo has been appointed as a Green Mission together with 20 other Danish embassies around the world. We are working daily on strengthening our climate-related work and reducing the embassy’s emissions.

Green investments are important and partnerships are key to delivering efficient support for climate adaptation. We need to share experiences and look for new ways to move forward.

That is why Denmark highly appreciates its partnership with Egypt and the precedent Cairo is setting in the region around climate issues.

It is essential that countries come together in the run-up to COP26 to rebuild trust and restore the spirit of the Paris Agreement. Denmark will do its best to accelerate action and raise ambitions, so that we can pass on a prosperous, just and sustainable world to the coming generations.

We are looking forward to the COP27 meeting hosted in Cairo to bring us all together, government, businesses and civil society, to build partnerships and bridges for a green world.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


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