In November, Egypt will host the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh. COP is the largest forum of its kind to be hosted by Egypt and North Africa since the political and security turmoil that struck the region since December 2010.
COP27 derives its significance from the importance of the issue of climate change, which has become one of the determinants of international politics given the climate disruptions the world is witnessing that affect the ecosystem of the planet. These disruptions directly affect the economic, political, and social conditions within countries. Sometimes, climate impacts could even affect the fate of some cities and countries, which may be at risk of disappearing.
In COP26, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi announced that Egypt will host COP 27, which raised questions about the implications of the nomination of Egypt to host the conference and the impact of its outcome on Egypt’s regional and international role, which has expanded in the past years after a period of confusion and looking inward.
The Implications of Egypt’s Nomination to Host COP27
Egypt has a pioneering experience in the green economy and clean energy sectors and seeks to mobilize countries involved in combating climate change to work for the benefit of Africa and developing countries. In this vein, Egypt drew up several plans and expended efforts geared towards preserving the environment and reducing harmful emissions. This has been manifested in the 2050 National Climate Change Strategy (NCSS), which aims to achieve sustainable economic growth and low-emission development in various sectors, build resilience and adaptability to climate change, mitigate the negative repercussions associated with it, improve the infrastructure to finance climate activities, and promote scientific research, technology transfer, and knowledge management.
Egypt’s NCSS involves the Nexus of Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) Program, designed with the nexus between energy, water, and food security in mind. The three sectors also share joint policies and the ecosystem on which natural resources and human activities rely. NWFE is a national project and a regional approach to link international climate and development issues, while mobilizing concessional development finance to address climate change adaptation and mitigation issues, and setting up a support mechanism and technical assistance to qualify the targeted projects, raise the technical efficiency and economic feasibility of those projects, and develop a map for the participation of development partners. Climate financing for this project and other similar ones will be a key factor in supporting and accelerating Egypt and other developing countries’ transition to low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive development models.
Egypt’s efforts come in tandem with the efforts of other African countries in their considerable efforts to combat climate change, particularly the North African countries, which realized the importance of this issue as has been evidence by Morocco’s development of the National Climate Plan 2020-2030 and Tunisia’s preparation of the 2050 National Low Carbon and Climate Change Resilient Strategy. These endeavors and plans come in parallel with US and European strategies to combat climate change. In 2015, the United States unveiled its Climate Change Policy. African efforts are no less important than those of the developed countries, particularly coming from developing countries that are more affected by climate change.
In addition to Egypt’s local experience, there is its African role, where it provides all support for the African continent, being one of the continents most affected by the underlying policies adopted by major countries that cause climate change. Over the past few years, Egypt endeavored to espouse demands of the African countries and put them forward in global platforms, with the aim of providing the necessary support and funding to implement policies that help confront climate change in those countries, an orientation that speeches of President Al-Sisi in international forums never misses.
Significance of COP27 for Egypt
COP26 sparked considerable controversy and some observers considered it unsuccessful for the failure of rich countries to provide the necessary funding to poor countries that are more vulnerable to risks of drought, rising sea levels, fires, and storms. For example, China and India insisted on toning down the language of the COP26 closing statement, which called for accelerating the pace of combating global warming, yet without emphasizing the need to meet the requests for assistance from poor countries. China and India also opposed discussions on polluting fuels. Overall, the language of the closing statement of COP26 was softer than other COP statements. COP27 statement called on countries to speed up reducing emissions by providing related national plans by 2022. Under pressure from the United States and the European Union, the statement didn’t include any reference to financing mechanisms for the losses and damages posed to the developing countries by climate change. Instead, they only pledged a future “dialogue” on the subject.
Overall, the political impact of COP27 on Egypt will be dependent on its negotiating capacity, its issuance of a powerful and positive statement that adopts the vision of the developing countries most vulnerable to the environmentally unfriendly policies pursued by rich countries, and its ability to follow up on the statement to ensure the implementation of recommendations that push the developed countries to ensure a prompt and positive compensation for the developing countries without fail, as opposed to what happened in COP15 in 2009 in Copenhagen, where the developed countries committed to a collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion by 2020 for climate action in developing countries, a commitment that was never fulfilled. Moreover, the economic changes over the past decade have devalued this amount. As such, Egypt will speak for the developing countries and support them in the face of the policies of the developed countries, including primarily the United States and China, which failed to fulfill their commitments towards the developing countries, by not pursuing environmental policies that would reduce harmful emissions. Worse, these countries dealt a lethal blow to the agreement, as was the case with the United States under Trump’s administration, reflecting their utter lack of concern for the health of the planet and its population.
COP27 could be capitalized on to advance priority issues for Egypt, including primarily water security and climate change impact on it.
Speaking of the economic impact of COP27 on Egypt, the conference could create opportunities for Egypt to enter into partnerships and receive additional funding sources from international organizations to finance climate projects and programs that address climate change in Egypt. Additionally, COP27 will also contribute to promoting tourism to Egypt and attract regional and international investments, let alone promoting the Egyptian products, crafts, and traditional industry, by showcasing products on the sidelines of the conference.
In short, Egypt’s nomination as host of COP27 reflects its regional, African, Arab, and international standing and its success in gaining the confidence of the international community. Through COP27, Egypt will consolidate its international role by taking advantage of the conference to support its political and economic issues and bolster its standing by putting forward recommendations that support developing countries in the face of rich countries to empower them economically to adapt to climate change.