Environment Day: From harm to healing

Mahmoud Bakr , Tuesday 31 Jan 2023

The Cairo International Airport opened a new solar power station amid other events launched to mark Environment Day this year in Egypt, reports Mahmoud Bakr

Environment Day:  From harm  to healing


A new solar power station began operating at the Cairo International Airport this week with a capacity of 300 KW/h, or 495 MW annually, in a bid to decrease CO2 emissions and enhance green economic growth.

The inauguration of the solar power station at the airport’s multi-storey carpark took place as the state marked Civil Aviation Day on 26 January and Environment Day on 27 January.

Egypt has been active in green projects meant to lower pollution and mitigate the repercussions of climate change. Simultaneously, it has been taking accelerated steps to support the transition to new and renewable energy sources, including in the aviation sector.

The moves are part of the National Strategy for Climate Change 2050 and build on the outcomes and recommendations of the UN COP27 Climate Change Conference that Egypt hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2022.

Following the inauguration of the solar power station, attended by Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad and Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Abbas, Fouad said the station was part of a national project to establish small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems implemented by Egypt’s Industrial Modernisation Centre in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the Global Environment Facility and the Ministry of Environment.

The airport halls have been equipped with solar units for charging mobile phones and display screens showing the amount of electricity generated from solar energy, Fouad stated, adding that the new station will decrease CO2 emissions by approximately 222.75 tons per annum.

At the opening of the new power station, Abbas said the ministries of aviation and environment have been collaborating on efforts to boost sustainable development and diversify sources of energy.

Alessandro Fracassetti, resident representative of the UNDP in Egypt, said the station was part of efforts by Egypt and the UNDP to spread the use of small-scale PV systems on the roofs of facilities to enhance the energy transition in the country.

Hind Farouh, director of the national project for PV systems, said that 141 solar stations have been installed in 17 governorates nationwide with a capacity of 18 MW. The project will yield positive environmental, social, and economic results, she added.

Moreover, it is meant to increase the percentage of local components in solar units, support emerging markets in this technology, generate job opportunities, and remove obstacles standing in the way of increasing energy production, Farouh noted.

To mark Environment Day, held this year under the theme of “Post-COP27: The Road Ahead”, the Ministry of Environment took to social media in order to increase awareness about the causes of climate change as well as local and global efforts to stop environmental deterioration.

Fouad said the state was focusing on clean energy, sustainable transportation, nature-based solutions, and integrated waste management, including reducing the consumption of single-use plastic bags. There was a clear emphasis on the use of clean energy, especially in the transport sector, to help reduce air pollution in the country’s big cities, she added.

Towards this end, the government is also implementing a Sustainability of Transportation Project (STP), part of which is centred on the transition to using vehicles powered by electricity or natural gas, the minister said.

The ministry plans to supply the General Transport Authority with 100 electric buses, take part in implementing the strategy to localise the electric-vehicle industry in Egypt in cooperation with a number of other ministries, and participate with the General Authority for Passenger Transport in Alexandria in introducing 15 electric buses, Fouad added.

In addition, it will cooperate with the Public Transport Authority to replace and renew old or dilapidated buses that have been operational for over 20 years with new buses that run on natural gas. It will also work on a project to establish low-emission zones where electric vehicles will be used in areas with sensitive environmental, historical, and heritage systems, she said.

The Arab Office for Youth and the Environment had marked Environment Day with the motto “Climate Action: Pledges and Aspirations” and was focusing on water and food security and education to achieve sustainable development, said Emad El-Din Adly, the head of the office.

Climate change endangers water and food security, he said, noting that the office had also marked Environment Day by holding discussions on national efforts to curb the effects of climate change and the role of local administrations in managing sustainable development.

It was imperative, Adly continued, to incorporate the National Strategy for Climate Change 2050 into the work plans of local administrations nationwide.

The office also reviewed efforts to integrate sustainable development into education and the role of scientific research in supporting the goals of Egypt’s Vision 2030 and climate-change strategy, he said.

Egypt approved its first law, Law 4/1994, to protect the environment on 27 January 1994. Since then, the annual Environment Day has focused on encouraging people to adopt positive attitudes towards the environment and protect natural resources for future generations.

It has also been part of the multi-faceted efforts made to enhance the collaboration between the state and civil society.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


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