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Egypt: ‘COP27 about climate, not hunger strike activist’ 

November 12, 2022 at 9:50 am

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry speak during a news conference following the opening ceremony of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt [Mohamed Abdel Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed that the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit (COP27) should focus on climate change and global warming, not on hunger striker Alaa Abdel Fattah, whose release is being called for by several international bodies.

In response to a question about Abdel Fattah, who is now receiving medical care during his detention, Shoukry replied: “I concentrate on highlighting the importance of the COP and trying to focus the attention of the parties, the international community and civil society on the existential challenge related to climate change. I think it is beneficial for achieving our objectives to continue focusing on this issue. This is why we are here.”

Several foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, raised the issue with Egyptian officials during their visit this week. Shoukry pointed out that such concerns could distract from the failure of some countries to fulfil their climate-related commitments.

“Other issues that are not directly pertaining to the climate might detract from the issue and, potentially, give justification to those who would prefer to concentrate on other issues to avoid having to deal with what they need to do and how they need to implement their obligations and responsibilities,” Shoukry asserted.

A deal was reached at the start of talks to put the issue of compensation for developing countries suffering severe losses from climate change on the official agenda.

READ: Reports Egypt FM will be removed from office after COP27

On this issue, Shoukry shared: “This in itself is a positive development and one that we should hail. What happens next will depend on the degree of flexibility the parties will demonstrate. We will certainly provide the opportunity for as much progress as possible on the agenda item, and hopefully, we will have a landing zone that will be satisfactory to all parties.”

Egypt is experiencing the severe effects of climate change itself, with rising sea levels threatening fertile lands in the Nile delta.

At the same time, the country remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its growing population’s energy needs. Its population is projected to reach 160 million by the middle of the century.

Hosting the annual climate talks has helped Egypt recently sign many deals to promote the roll-out of renewable energy, something to which Shoukry believes the government is committed and is seeking to pursue more deals in this field.

“If we can move to fully renewable energy sources overnight, we will not hesitate for a moment. However, like many developing countries, we are constrained by the high cost of financing, lack of investment and having to deal with other priorities regarding our citizens’ interests,” concluded Shoukry.

COP27: will there be action after the talks? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

COP27: will there be action after the talks? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]