SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Egypt is working to bridge the gaps between negotiating parties at the United Nations climate conference as negotiators finalize draft agreements on Saturday as the first summit week ends in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheik.
Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said the biggest challenge for Egypt as a host country is to have ‘convinced negotiators on different issues’, including funds for nations to adapt to climate change and a consensus on “loss and damage” – financing from industrialized countries to the poorest. , vulnerable people who experience climate-related damage.
Speaking to The Associated Press at the climate summit, also known as COP27, Fouad said the host country was also working to advance the work program to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Egypt said it would pressure other countries to implement climate pledges made at previous conferences.
“There is some sort of agreement that we need to move the agenda forward,” Fouad said of the negotiations. “But it’s up to all of us on that.”
Financing is another major challenge for developing countries looking to reduce their emissions, switch to renewable energy and protect their vulnerable communities from climate shocks, such as drought and floods. For the first time, this year’s summit agenda also included the issue of loss and damage.
Rich countries have already failed to deliver on their promise to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poor countries. This has opened up a rift of mistrust that negotiators hope to fill with new commitments. But the needs are increasing and a new higher target must be set from 2025, according to some countries.
Egypt needs $264 billion in investments over the next seven years to deliver its adaptation and mitigation agenda, the minister said. Much of the country’s infrastructure depends on fossil fuels, and its coastal regions, including parts of the Nile Delta rich in fertile land, are increasingly threatened by rising sea levels.
“Finance is the bottleneck of any green transition,” Fouad said.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country with over 104 million people, is already facing tough economic challenges, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.
The Egyptian government announced in recent days several agreements with Western countries and global development banks to make its energy and transport sectors cleaner, including a $500 million package to finance and facilitate its transition to clean energy. The package, which was announced by US President Joe Biden on Friday, would help Egypt meet its goal of producing 42% of its electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030, five years ahead of schedule.
Fouad also talked about measures to reduce air pollution in his main cities, including Cairo.
In recent months, environmental groups have criticized the government for razing green spaces and cutting trees that lined streets, as part of sweeping urban redevelopment projects that are transforming much of historic Cairo, including the well-known neighborhood of Heliopolis.
The minister defended the measures saying they were necessary.
“Sometimes you have to widen a street so that there is no traffic jam” and that would have a positive impact on air quality, Fouad said.
She added that the government was no longer reducing its green spaces and planned to plant 100 million trees across the country.
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