<font color="#B84221">Climate Change and the Legal Profession Proactive Role: A Closer Look into Africa and Egypt</font>
Climate Change and the Legal Profession Proactive Role:
A Closer Look into Africa and Egypt
According to the latest assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “most countries in the Middle East and North Africa region including Egypt are highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change”.
In March 2015, Egypt launched its strategy for sustainable development, “Egypt’s Vision 2030” one of the long-term sustainability plans which spans over the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely; economic, social and environmental (ESG) dimensions, and outlines the broader principles, which will guide Egypt in pursuing its developmental goals. In addition, “National Climate Change Strategy 2050” focuses on lowering carbon emissions, increasing reliance on clean energy and enhancing scientific research.
In alignment with Egypt’s ambition and SDG’s goals, Egypt is also coordinating global action on climate adaptation, mitigation, and finance hosting COP27 in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh as a representative of Africa to “advance African priorities and reach concrete actions on global climate change and clean energy transition”.
The Global Goal on Adaptation was one of the significant outcomes of COP26. COP27 makes the crucially needed progress, enhance global agenda for action on adaptation and urge all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will towards enhancing resilience and assist the most vulnerable communities.
The upcoming Cop 27’s main goals and mission is to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance. Cop 27 will build upon the previous success of the African Continent Priorities, mainly the African Renewable Energy Initiative and the African Adaptation Initiative.
Egypt has already adopted a range of new sustainable projects and started to adapt its businesses to the new environmental goals. Egypt is seeking to increase the rates of green investments to represent 50% of total government investments by 2024, which enhance the intervention of private sector and investors in the future economic activities. This in turn will have a significant effect on the legal practice in Egypt in the upcoming years.
“Race to net-zero,
race to resilience"
In the move towards a green and inclusive future, the government of Egypt continuously affirms the country’s commitment to promote both private sector engagement and climate agenda. This was evident in President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s opening speech at the beginning of COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021 as he affirmed the urgency of addressing climate change challenges and the significant role that the private sector can play in this arena. The consequence of climate inaction are becoming a real threat to economic growth. Solutions require public and private collaboration in financing and implementation. Businesses, banks, and investors play a crucial role in the process of climate resilience.
This vision has been translated in multiple sectors through the 2015 Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy (ISES), which aims to produce 20% of Egypt’s power from renewable resources by 2022, and 42% by 2035. Today, around “20% of Egypt’s energy production comes from wind and solar energy, as well as hydropower and 54% for sustainable water supplies and wastewater management” according to the UNDP.
In Addition, the country pushed forward the development of sustainable and green transportation networks through the development of the monorail and the upgrading and expanding of the metro lines; connecting people through inclusive transportation while reducing carbon emissions.
Egypt also issued 5-year sovereign green bonds worth $750m, which are dedicated to funding green projects. In 2021, the Ministry of International Cooperation announced that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) “will invest $100m in Egypt’s first private sector green bond issuance”.
However, to enhance the private sector engagement, particularly in moving towards a net zero emissions, the government is committed to adopting regulatory reforms. For example, since the issuance of the Renewable Energy Law, the private sector has been encouraged to play a role in the country’s green transformation strategy and produce electricity from renewable resources through several partnerships. KarmSolar was the first private solar integrator in Egypt to obtain a license from the Egyptian Electricity Regulatory Agency. This helped Egypt become one of the leading countries in renewable energy in the MENA region, according to the 2020 Solar Outlook Report.
Moreover, a new law was issued to allow the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) to enter into public-private partnerships (PPP) projects to manage and operate electric railways. Also, in terms of climate action, the Ministry secured $1.4bn in electricity, renewable energy, and petroleum sectors, and $230m for the environment sector last year, reflected through projects in clean and sustainable transport, and sustainable infrastructure. The government is now collaborating with the private sector to design, build, operate and finance 19 water desalination plants between 2020 and 2025. In addition, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured a total of $4.76bn in finance for the private sector; $3.19bn in 2020 and $1.57bn in 2021.
Within the Ministry’s current portfolio, there are 28 adaptation projects worth $2.85bn in development financing. These projects are deploying environmentally friendly principles and practices in several sectors; the most prominent of which being the environment, water, agriculture, and irrigation sectors, by enhancing climate-smart agricultural practices and investing in water desalination and wastewater management projects in addition to energy and transport, such as solar power stations and wind farms, as well as renovating and constructing new metro lines and electric trains to establish a sustainable transport system.
The transition toward a low carbon climate-resilient economy will require effective actions to support an increased role of the private sector which enhance the intervention of lawyers as guiders in this new transition.
The legal practice transition in a net zero future
While companies and financial institutions have been making positive steps towards their net zero promises to change the way they do business, the legal profession has been quietly making its own transition.
Law firms have to adapt with the future sustainable goals by taking a proactive approach to mitigate the climate crisis and provide competent advice to clients explaining how they can achieve their objectives while minimizing the effects of climate change and promotes adaptation.
A global response to the climate crisis will undoubtedly give rise to increased disputes, with lawyers representing the legal interests and rights of all sides. Parties to these disputes will include states, corporations, communities, civil society organisations and individuals who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. In this regard, law firms can prepare themselves to the new changes, both internally and in their relationship with clients by:
Introducing practical measures to reduce the environmental impact on their business;
Developing well-supported career paths for lawyers who wish to transition into distinct disciplines relating to climate change;
Developing a strong understanding for lawyers by doing seminars to have a good understanding of what net zero means as it begins to steer business planning, governance, and policy;
Reducing Energy Consumption in the workplace;
Reduce Waste and move towards paperless and clean desk policy;
Optimize Employees’ Transportation by adopting a work-from-home policy and virtual meetings policy as much as possible.
Raising awareness among Employees, Clients and other Stakeholders.
Engaging with current and future legislative and policymaking efforts to mitigate the climate crisis and protect the human rights of those most affected by it.
Egypt has shown a great initiative to the environmental cause, by hosting the COP27 and leading Africa towards net zero emissions while advocating climate justice and resilience, not to mention the progress in this area embodied by the massive green projects in different sectors and collaboration with the private sector and financial institutions. This transition is supported by the legal practitioners through their effective and proactive approach in this revolutionary transition.
For further information,
please contact Khaled Attia.
Published in September 2022