Egypt, host of COP27, will push for climate targets and allow protests

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – Egypt, host of the upcoming United Nations climate change summit, will pressurize countries to fulfill their pledges to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, facilitate “non-adverse” negotiations on compensation to countries in development for warming impacts and allow climate activists to protest, said the new president of COP27.

In an interview Monday with the Associated Press, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who is also the designated chairman of the upcoming annual Conference of the Parties, to be held in November in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, called the goal “implementation”.

Shoukry said the latest summit, held last year in Glasgow, Scotland, finalized many commitments made during the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aimed to reduce emissions aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). ) since pre-industrial times.

“Commitments and pledges now need to be implemented across all sectors of the climate change agenda, whether in adaptation, mitigation or finance, loss and damage,” said Shoukry, who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In recent years, many developing nations and activists have increased longstanding calls to establish a fund to compensate poor countries for the devastation wrought by climate change, caused disproportionately by rich countries because of past emissions.

The call was rejected during last year’s summit. Many proponents of the idea, often referred to as “loss and damage,” hope to make progress in November. His arguments can be reinforced by the symbolic significance of this conference held in Egypt, a developing nation in North Africa.

“We hope the discussion (about loss and damage) will be comprehensive, but not adversarial,” Shoukry said, adding that there must be a recognition among all countries “that we are all in the same boat and that we must succeed, we all have to succeed.”

Shoukry said protests will be allowed during the conference. Egyptian authorities crack down on unsanctioned demonstrations by the government and retain the right to cancel or postpone any protests, leading activists to wonder what, if any, demonstrations could take place, a common occurrence at previous COPs.

“We are developing a facility adjacent to the conference center that will give them a full opportunity to participate, to activism, to demonstrate, to express that opinion,” Shoukry said. “And we will also give them access, as is traditionally done on a trading day, to the trading bloc itself.”

Protests at the UN global climate conferences often fill the streets with floats and banners and last for days. The protests, as well as the booths and press conferences outside official facilities, form a conference of their own, although they are not where the language critical of carbon commitments is crafted.

Shoukry said during meetings in Denmark earlier this month around climate pledges that he invited protesters outside to speak with him. He called the meeting “productive” and that Egypt’s climate goals are in line with those of many protesters.

“We recognize your impact, your determination, your commitment to keeping us honest as representatives of government and parties that we must not be delinquents and rise to the occasion and address this very important issue,” he said.

Before hosting the conference, Egypt is rushing to launch many agreements around renewable energy. In March, Egypt and Norway signed an agreement for several projects around green hydrogen and building green infrastructure projects in African countries. Egypt and clean energy company Scatec also signed a $5 billion memorandum of understanding to establish a plant in the Suez Canal area to produce green ammonia from green hydrogen. These deals come after years of steady investment in wind and solar technologies.

Shoukry said Egypt is relying as much as possible on renewable energy in building several new cities, including a new administrative capital east of Cairo. Critics called it a “vanity project”, but the government said it needed to absorb Cairo’s growing population, which is expected to double to 40 million people by 2050.

Shoukry said a rapid shift to renewables has presented huge opportunities for investors, a common argument of proponents. When asked whether fossil fuel companies could or should be part of the transition to renewable energy, an argument made by oil and gas companies, including many at the Davos conference, Shoukry disagreed.

“I cannot say that fossil fuels are part of the solution. Fossil fuels have been the problem,” he said. “We can see in gas a transitory source of energy with certainly less emissions. But I think we have to really move quickly towards the net zero target and we have to apply ourselves more effectively to new technologies, to renewable energy.”

_____

Peter Prengaman is director of global environmental and climate news for the Associated Press. Follow him here: http://twitter.com/peterprengaman

_____

The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. See more about the AP climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.