With Egypt as the COP27 host country, we focus on the climate-friendly efforts by the Government and provide some insights on Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin.
Muhammad El HagganSenior Associate,Litigation
Human influence over the climate and environment has become apparent since the Industrial Revolution. The trend has accelerated in the second half of the twentieth century. Because of this, the climate change conversation has become increasingly urgent and it is one that developed and developing economies are grappling with.
The world looks with trepidation at the consequences of climate change. Reduced food and water security and intensity of weather extremes are consequences that will impact all nations directly or indirectly, with the most profound immediate effects being felt by the global south.
With a focus on Egypt as the COP27 host country, this article will focus on the climate-friendly efforts by the Egyptian Government and provide some insights on Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, the seventh High-Level Champion for Climate Action for COP27.
At an institutional level, the Ministry of Environment was established in 1997 through which all climate efforts are managed. As climate change is becoming a more pressing global matter, the Egyptian National Climate Change Council was founded in 2015 as the national Egyptian authority concerned with climate change, which combines relevant ministries under one government body.
At the policy level, the Government bodies are incentivizing environmentally conscious investments in tax and customs relief, and real estate ownership for strategic and sustainable activities.
The combined efforts of the Egyptian Government through its regulatory bodies are manifested in several sectors. In the energy sector, the Egyptian Government has adopted a feed-in-tariff mechanism in the power generation sector including for private investors. Through individual efforts in households or enterprise contributions to solar and wind farms, the fossil fuel dependency would decrease, in line with Egypt Vision 2030’s sustainable environment goal. Egypt is aiming toward the preservation of both development and the environment together through the rational use of resources in a way that preserves the rights of future generations in a more secure and adequate way. The Government believes this is achievable by facing the effects of climate change, enhancing the resilience of ecosystems and the ability to face natural hazards and disasters, increasing reliance on renewable energy and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The Government had also initiated multiple waste projects including waste management and waste-to-energy plants. On the mass transportation front, the Government has started a major overhaul in the transit infrastructure including metro upgrade, electric high-speed rail, electric light rail and an electric run bus rapid transit system. Combined with green energy initiatives, this would lead to a significant carbon footprint reduction in Cairo; the capital known to be congested and polluted.
In the industrial sector, the major contribution of the Government is witnessed in the ‘Egyptian Programme for promoting Industrial Power Efficiency’. The first meeting of the working group was last June aiming at a policy reform that would be required for a major change towards more efficient industrial utilization of power.
On water resources, the Government initiated several programs such as water desalination using solar energy, protection of shore lines, rehabilitation of irrigation canals, solar pumping for irrigation and modernization of on-farm practices. That feeds directly into agricultural programs that include the enhancement of agricultural production for adaptation to climate change, rehabilitation of agricultural areas and on-farm irrigation development programs. The Government programs have also included urban development where there is growing appetite for building green cities.
In addition to governmental efforts at a policy and infrastructure level, there are more plans for green projects including biodegradable plastic, biofuel production and recycling in which the private sector will have a key role.
Financing Government green ambitions has also been a focus of innovation. To further the goals of the sustainable development strategy enshrined in Egypt Vision 2030, the Government issued a five-year term green bond for the first time in 2020. Being the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, the bond directed finance to greener solutions such as low-carbon mass transit, renewable energy, pollution prevention and control, energy efficiency, climate-resilient infrastructure, sustainable water and wastewater management.
From a global viewpoint, the high-level climate champion is one who takes forward the Paris Agreement Agenda. Dr. Mahmoud Moheildin, the current and seventh UN high-level climate champion contributed with his work on the environment before the Paris Agreement. Having 30 years of working experience in the public sector and at the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Mohieldin contributed to the creation of the United Nations’ global sustainable development goals.
With the thirteenth goal comprising climate action, it is becoming a pressing matter to take the necessary steps. Coral reef degradation and disappearance, rising sea levels, droughts, climate disasters and the rising temperatures are key issues. Since humanity is a contributing factor, Dr. Mohieldin is a firm believer that investment in human capital is fundamental to address climate challenges.
Noting the costs of fighting climate challenges, Dr. Mohieldin believes that “with the climate gaps being in trillions of US Dollars, the private sector isn’t the singular answer, but it has a big role”. The private sector’s involvement is encouraged on on two levels; the first is financing by way of public-private partnerships in green projects, and the second is compliance with governmental sustainable policies. The key to private sector participation is, according to Dr. Mohieldin, commercial viability. The private sector by nature seeks to monetize opportunities, which is not the ultimate goal of a public sector that is seeking the broader goal of sustainable development. The two agendas are complementary – with government setting a policy framework that the private sector can then use as a platform for sustainable investment.
For further information, please contact Muhammad El Haggan.
Published in November 2022