On 19 March 2019, Cairo Climate Talks brought together experts from all disciplines to discuss the results of COP24 and the needed action for COP25. In her welcoming remarks, Ms. Isabell Mering the Director of the German Academic Exchange Service office in Cairo (DAAD) highlighted the importance of global cooperation and the urgency of action. She mentioned that DAAD is increasingly supporting scholars in the field of climate change and sustainable development, which will undoubtedly strengthen their contributions in the future. Following Ms. Mering’s remarks, Mr. Sönke Siemon, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy, welcomed everyone to the 59th Cairo Climate Talks and highlighted the “Friday for Future” movement in which students all over the world staged peaceful protests to urge politicians to step up to fight climate change. “German environment Minister Svenja Schulze lauded the students’ movement and thanked them for this wake-up call. Minister Schulze pointed out that Germany was actively working to protect the environment, as exemplified by the cabinet decision to end the use of coal by 2038.” He then added “COP24 has helped us move forward, and I would like to point out the key role played by Egypt and Germany working together in this regard”. Following him, Ms. Justyna Porazińska, Deputy Head of Mission of the Polish Embassy, stressed the importance of the Katowice rulebook in realizing the aims of the Paris agreement. “The rulebook describes a step-by-step guide for the implementation of the agreement. The rulebook also includes a facilitative system which will act as a method of accountability.”
The discussion took off with a quick overview of Egypt’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) by Mr. Saber Osman, Climate Change Adaptation Manager at the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency. Mr. Osman called Egypt’s NDCs very ambitious. He named coastal zones, agriculture, health plans and urbanization as some of the main sectors addressed in the Egyptian NDC. He also mentioned that the energy sector is one of the main greenhouse gas contributors in Egypt and mentioned Egypt’s efforts in the energy sector including energy efficiency and the Benban solar power plant. Dr. Ahmed Badr, Executive Director of the Reginal Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREE) also commended the efforts in the renewable energy sector “Egypt is doing a great job in the energy sector. The country is widening and opening the scale of energy projects, has signed 1000 Megawatts of wind.” He added that investments from the private sector paired with the gradual cutting of subsidies is sure to guarantee decreased emissions in the energy sector.
Dr. Sherine ElBaradei, Assistant Professor at the civil and infrastructure engineering program at Nile University, pointed at the complexities of the projected effects of climate change on Egypt’s water surfaces. “With evaporation rates and sea level rise, Egypt’s two main sources of water [the Nile river and ground water] are going to be highly affected. We need to resort to some innovative solutions, perhaps covering the channels to decrease the evaporation rate or desalination, which can be expensive and energy intensive”. To the topic of climate finance and the Green Climate Fund, Mr. Arne Riedel, Riedel, fellow at Ecologic Institute in Berlin and member of the German delegation to the UN climate negotiations mentioned that a lot of parties contributing to the GCF are quite hesitant even though some countries like Germany are on the right path of achieving the goal of $100 Billion by 2025. However, he added: “What gives us hope is that there are a lot of investments going in this direction that don’t necessarily count against the GCF. Legislation can also act as incentive on the national and global levels”.
The panelists agreed that the Katowice Rulebook is not only a step in the right direction, but a crucial stepping stone in the history of climate negotiations.
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