Working together for Africa

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 16 Nov 2022

The US identifies Egypt as a channel for accelerating climate change adaptation across the continent

Joe Biden
Joe Biden


The meeting between President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his US counterpart Joe Biden in Sharm El-Sheikh on 11 November focused on supporting adaptation to climate change in Africa and reinforcing strategic relations between the two countries, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

According to a statement issued by the State Department on the sidelines of COP27, Washington and Cairo agreed to work together on addressing Africa’s climate priorities and implementing clean and renewable energy projects.

“The United States is focused on making COP27 responsive to the priorities and needs of the African continent. Seventeen of the most climate-vulnerable countries are in Africa,” said Blinken.

The US is doubling its commitment to the Adaptation Fund, increasing investments in early-warning systems, improving access to disaster risk insurance for African countries and farmers, and supporting African-led capacity development programmes to manage climate risks, added Blinken.

On Saturday, Egypt and the US announced over $150 million in aid for African climate adaptation. Egypt’s Foreign Minister and President of COP27 Sameh Shoukri and US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry said the initiative aims to accelerate adaptation across the continent, saving millions of lives and livelihoods.

An additional $15 billion for projects in the Nexus on Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) programme is also being made available following the signing of a number of partnerships with international finance institutions and development partners, the COP27 Presidency said in a statement. 

On 11 November, speaking during a special session on Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa, Shoukri said the key challenge for African countries is to access funding for climate action. Recognising that urgent need for progress towards adapting to climate change and enhancing resilience, Egypt and the US launched the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda.

The agenda, Shoukri continued, comprises 30 global adaptation outcome targets to be met by 2030 which, combined, will address the adaptation gap and increase the resilience of four billion people by accelerating transformation across five impact systems — food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal systems and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure.

“Egypt, as COP27 president and as an African nation, is well aware of the adaptation challenges facing our continent and we are pleased to have collaborated over the past year with the US to develop a diverse package of support for Africa in the field of adaptation and resilience,” said Shoukri.

Kerry said that as part of the US Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), an initiative launched last year to help more than half a billion people in developing countries to adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change by 2030, the US is doubling its Adaptation Fund Pledge to $100 million.

“The Adaptation in Africa initiative — announced in June 2022 by President Biden and President Al-Sisi — has the potential to result in $4-10 of benefits for every dollar invested,” said Kerry.

He explained that the initiative in Africa includes a $13.6 million Systematic Observations Financing Facility that will help fill weather, water and climate observation gaps, and $15 million to support the co-development and deployment of early-warning systems which has the potential to cut the number of people who need emergency assistance in half by 2030. A further $10 million has been allocated to support capacity building among Africa’s current and future decision-makers, and a similar sum to support the launch of a new adaptation centre, the Cairo Centre for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience.

Some $3.5 million has been allocated to support the least developed African countries enhance access to adaptation finance, and $25 million will be channelled to the African Union’s flagship Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI), hosted by Egypt, to launch the AAI Food Security Accelerator which aims to scale up private sector investment in climate-resilient food security.

Earlier this week, in a statement released by the US embassy in Cairo, Kerry warned that “unprecedented investment in clean energy in Africa is needed to limit warming to 1.5C and avert catastrophic climate impacts on communities worldwide, and in Africa in particular.

“Annual clean energy investment must triple to $4.2 trillion by 2030,” with over half of that investment going to emerging and developing economies, he said.

The Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa event was immediately followed by Accelerating Mitigation Ambition while Ensuring Energy Security, also jointly hosted by Egypt and the US, which focused on providing support for the NWFE programme.

In his speech before the conference on 11 November, Biden revealed that the US would offer $500 million in funding to help Egypt transfer to clean energy.

“This deal will help Egypt get 10 GW in clean renewable energy by the year 2030 and improve five GW of energy produced by gas in order to cut Egypt’s fuel emissions by 10 per cent,” he said.

“The US will also work closely with Egypt to save four billion cubic metres of natural gas lost in wind, leakage and incineration works.”

The week also saw a meeting between Shoukri and a US congressional delegation led by the speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said the meeting focused on cooperation between the US and Egypt in the area of water and energy resources, as well as Egypt’s efforts to reach a legally binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 November, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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