Delegation of the European Union to Albania

Climate Change is a Matter of Survival… Join us in Taking Action

Cairo, 24/09/2018 - 15:21, UNIQUE ID: 180924_12

Op-ed by Ivan Surkoš, Ambassador of the European Union to Egypt, published in Arabic in Al Masry Al Youm daily Egyptian newspaper

Comparing my window view in Cairo over twenty years ago and now, I can observe how the weather has been changing dramatically. Having visited many countries too I can definitely tell that it is not only Cairo that has been facing these climate changes. The implications of the climate change on environment became obvious even to the non-experts.

Climate challenges are being tackled on various levels around the world as it poses a great threat to our planet and its people. The global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2030 agenda will never be achieved without serious steps to tackle these challenges.

This year there is a great opportunity to discuss the recent developments under the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’, where governments and stakeholders across the world will set together, for the first time since Paris Agreement, to evaluate what has been achieved so far.

The European Union (EU) considers Talanoa Dialogue as an excellent opportunity to boost the multilateral cooperation and build mutual trust amongst the participants. It also sets the tone for the EU’s annual Climate Diplomacy Week, which we are celebrating from 24 to 30 September with our partners across the world, aiming at spreading the awareness on climate change internationally, while stressing the links with other SDGs such as green finance, renewable energy, and sustainable land use.

The EU is adopting a legislative framework for delivering its target of cutting domestic greenhouse gas emissions inside the EU by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This includes, for example, revising the EU emissions trading system for the period after 2020, setting national emissions reduction targets for sectors not covered by emissions trading, and integrating land use in our climate legislation. Globally, the EU has committed to devote at least 20% of its development assistance funds to climate action.   

In Egypt, over EUR 770 million of EU grant assistance is climate-relevant, and part of this has also helped leverage additional concessional loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and other development banks for some EUR 4.65 billion. Our cooperation with Egypt in the climate-relevant field focuses on the sustainable energy, water & water sanitation and waste management projects. Therefore, we have funded the National Solid Waste Management Programme (NSWMP) that seeks to support the Egyptian government in institution- and capacity-building, policy reform, and solid waste infrastructure investment components in four governorates. The total financing plan is EUR 61.9 million, with an EU grant contribution of EUR 20 million.

Moreover, the EU-Egypt cooperation in the energy sector amounts to EUR 350 million in grants that lead to achieving a number of reforms' benchmarks such as Egypt’s Sustainable Energy Strategy 2035 and the ongoing technical assistance to support the reform of the financial and technical sustainability of the New and Renewable Energy Authority which kicked off last August. The Gulf of El Zayt and the Gulf of Suez windfarms that we have funded help provide Egypt with clean energy and to reduce carbon emissions.

Yet, celebrating the Climate Diplomacy Week this year for me has a different flavour. We have been organising several events that aim at raising the awareness of the implications of climate change among Egyptians on various levels, including youth and children. We already organised a beach clean-up event last week in Alexandria, attended by over 300 volunteers who came to clean a public beach from the marine litter, especially plastic. During this week, the EU announces the launching of CLIMA MED project at a high-level conference with the presence of the Minister of Environment and the Minister of International Cooperation. We are participating in activities that target promoting pro-climate values, especially among youth, such as cycling, tree planting, and other climate-relevant activities.

On the international level, the Paris Agreement on climate change, a landmark global agreement adopted by almost 200 countries including Egypt, sets out an action plan to put the world on track to avoid serious climate change. It sets the direction of travel for the global transition to low-emission, climate-resilient economies and societies.

We must reinforce our collective attempts to implement the resolutions of the Paris Agreement. In accordance with the upcoming special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the chance to reach the target of limiting global warming to well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels is vanishing quickly, especially, that the emission reduction targets which had been proposed by countries in Paris are not enough to achieve the global target.

Climate issues are not a matter of political or economic gains, but rather a matter of survival. I hope you join us this week and start your own commitment for climate action to preserve our planet for current and future generations.

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