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Egypt under threat of climate change: National strategies are insufficient

Rare snowfall in Alexandria on 20 December, 2021 [@andreasyounan/Twitter]
Rare snowfall in Alexandria on 20 December, 2021 [@andreasyounan/Twitter]

While Egyptians were wowed by pictures of the rare snowfall in Alexandria which was described as "European weather", the Senate in Cairo was discussing the impact of climate change following a request by Senator Walid El-Tamimi.

Last month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Egypt for being chosen to host the COP27 Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh next year.

El-Tamami said that hosting COP27 in Egypt should "prompt the government to face the challenge of climate change and its impact on Mediterranean cities, water resources and agricultural production in Egypt."

The world has been facing severe climate changes over the past years due to global warming, carbon emissions, and the extensive use of fossil fuels. Africa is affected more greatly by these changes as a result of its vast deserts and drought. The Egyptian Meteorological Authority indicated that the summer of 2021 witnessed an unprecedented rise in temperature of 3-4 degrees when compared to five years ago.

READ: Sisi wants to host UN Climate Change Conference next year

The rise in temperature has had a destructive impact on agricultural production in Egypt. Last summer the fruit and vegetable harvest witnessed a 50 per cent drop in yield. The most affected crops were olives and mangos, but even these saw reduced crops.

Tourism is also likely to be impacted by the change in temperature, as Egypt depends on beach tourism on the Red Sea and the coral reefs within it. Concerns are raising that global warming will have a detrimental effect on such organisms, while rising sea levels may reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the reefs.

Egypt being next COP27 host while it is one of the most polluting nations - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Egypt being next COP27 host while it is one of the most polluting nations – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

In spite of all this, the biggest threat to Egypt is a reduction to its water resources. Some 97 per cent of the country's water comes from abroad, mainly through the River Nile. Egypt faced the risk of reducing its water share of the Nile after Ethiopia, an upstream country on the Nile basin, built its Renaissance Dam.

In response, the National Council for Climate Change was established in 2015 to plan and supervise policies to counter these destructive effects. Indeed, the new council issued a National Strategy for Climate Changes 2050. To date, however, this has mainly included general recommendations on promoting governance and cooperation between the various ministries to implement green policies and espousing a green economic attitude.

Although the government could argue that economic hardships cripple its ability to make wide steps towards greener policies, it does not allow civil societies working in this area to move freely as part of the broad government crackdown on civil community organisations.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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