President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in Paris Sunday to participate in the UN climate conference. Egypt is currently head of the African Union climate change committee and as such will represent African countries’ interests in the conference that will start Monday.
“The talks will be heated because we will discuss funding and common responsibilities which developed countries want to stay impartial from,” Egyptian Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy told state-run news agency MENA.
Al-Sisi will deliver a speech on behalf of African countries to express their support for achieving an agreement on climate change that takes into account the rights of all sides, according to a statement released by the Egyptian presidency.
He will also participate in a meeting on climate change challenges led by French President Francois Hollande to exchange points of view on climate change, with a particular focus on the reliance on new energy in Africa.
Al-Sisi is expected to meet Hollande, as well as French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, and French Ministers of Defence and of Interior, on the sidelines of the conference. The conference will attempt to craft a long-term deal to limit carbon emissions. About 40,000 people are expected to participate in the conference, which runs until 11 December.
The heads of 147 states are participating in this conference, compared to 115 during the last summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009.
“The crises Egypt witnessed recently, such as high temperatures and excessive floods in coastal cities, are results of climate change and will get worse in the upcoming years,” read a statement by the Egyptian Centre for Social and Economic Rights (ECESR), released mid-November.
“What Egypt presented so far from its actions to eliminate climate change is incommensurate with such crises,” the statement added. It also reviewed the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) as “broad and neglecting many factors of climate change in Egypt”.
The INDC said planned reductions can be achieved by using electricity of end users, gradual lifting of energy subsidy from three to five years, encouraging recycling and waste management, and enhancing the quality of different industrial sectors, such as cement.
“Many adaptation regulations issued to eliminate climate change rely heavily on the citizen rather than putting forth strict legislations to ensure emissions control and consequently natural disasters,” the statement concluded.
In late October, Alexandria and Beheira were hit by excessive rain floods that left dozens dead. The storm was the second in the city this autumn, after the one in early October, which also paralysed the entire city and flooded the streets.
The number of deaths due to significant change in climate conditions in Egypt this year increased. In August, at least 100 people died from a nationwide heat wave, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health’s reports.
In April, then prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb allowed integrating coal in the energy mix, the biggest carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emitter.
In mid-September, the Egyptian Ministry of Environment approved studies conducted by seven cement factories to use coal in their production process instead of natural gas. The factories include Lafarge, Suez Cement, and Arabian Cement, among others.
“Climate change is among the top issues to be discussed during the upcoming sideline meetings in preparation for the upcoming climate change summit in Paris this December,” Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy previously told Daily News Egypt upon arrival at the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.
During the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) summit, the UN and its member states, including Egypt, adopted a new set of 17 developmental goals until 2030, including a wider range of global issues, such as climate change and energy.
According to the UN factsheet, greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change, and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by almost 50% since 1990. Carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from seven net land use change emissions.
On Friday, an international movement called 350 for advocating on climate change launched a marathon in Zamalek, Cairo and another on Alexandria Corniche, in partnership with the Cairo and Alexandria Runners groups. Participants held up signs about climate change and a slogan of “Egypt fights climate change”.
More action has been undertaken by civil groups on the same issue. Independent local coalition Egyptians Against Coal aims to advocate excluding coal use from Egypt’s energy mix by 2017 due to its hazardous environmental threats, the group announced in a meeting in early November.