Where will COP27 be hosted? How environmentally friendly is Egypt - what are the country’s climate policies

A project to make Sharm el-Sheikh a green city has been signed, but the country’s CO2 emissions have more than doubled since the first climate summit in 1995

World leaders and representatives of more than 190 countries will head to Egypt for two weeks this month to attend COP27.

The UN’s Conference of the Parties will make plans to tackle climate change and the Earth’s rising temperature. Rishi Sunak has recently been criticised for saying he will not attend the event, although he has since confirmed he is heading to the meeting, in a huge U-turn.

COP27 will take place from Sunday 6 to Friday 18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Here we take a look at what the country’s environmental policies are like, how environmentally friendly it is and how its policies compare to the UK.

Where will COP27 be hosted?

UN delegates, presidents, and prime ministers will head to Egypt for COP27, with the annual event to be held in the resort area of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly visited the city on Tuesday (1 November) to get firsthand information about final preparations for the upcoming summit.

The conference will be held under the slogan “Together for implementation” and will see the participation of more than 100 heads of state, ministers, heads of international organisations, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

Last year’s conference was hosted in Glasgow, Scotland and next year it is due to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Middle East. COP28 will take place in November 2023, although the exact start date has yet to be confirmed.

How environmentally friendly is Egypt?

The Egyptian government has been making large yet gradual sweeps towards a greener future. Prime Minister Madbouly has revealed that 50% of Egypt’s national projects will focus on sustainability or will be made sustainable by 2024.

Among these projects is the Haya Karima initiative, which looks to improve the quality of life for 60 million citizens living in rural areas. The initiative will involve climate change solutions, helping rural citizens adapt to the challenges of climate change through education and upgrades to their infrastructure.

The world’s largest plastic waste pyramid was revealed in Egypt on Thursday (3 November) ahead of COP27, marking the beginning of a movement called the 100YR CLEANUP led by zero-waste company Zero Co and mission-led wine The Hidden Sea. The initiative aims to remove 15 million water bottles worth of rubbish from the planet, every year, for the next 100 years.

It was erected in Egypt’s Western Desert, just outside Cairo, and the immense structure took five days to build and is taller than a three-story building - it also used 18 tonnes of trash from the Nile River.

In the lead up to the conference, Sharm El Sheikh in particular is seeing a wide array of changes to ensure the resort town matches up to the essence of COP27. In June the Egyptian Ministry of Environment signed a project with the aim of turning it into a green city.

Public vehicles are now being swapped for electric-powered alternatives and all hotels will soon be required to have to certify their environmentally-friendly status.

Alessandro Fracassetti, the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt, told Daily News Egypt that the project relies on nature based solutions and provides an example for the rest of Egyptian cities about what sustainable tourism could be.

He said: “We are planning projects dealing with issues such as solid waste management, solar panels, photovoltaics, desalinization, green hotel standards, sustainable transportation.

“We released new environmental guidelines for all restaurants and hotels in the city, to make sure that everything that they do is environmentally friendly.”

He further added that the UNDP is supporting a plastic free campaign so that the use of single-use plastic will be banned by the time of the conference. It also supports implementing solar power and photovoltaics in hotels, the airport, desalination plants and also in government buildings.

However, data on consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions indicates that Egypt needs to make more progress to decrease its emissions. Consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions account for trade, for example the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the production of imported and exported goods.

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From 1995, when the first COP meeting was held, Egypt’s consumption-based carbon dioxide levels have risen by 128.2 million tonnes according to figures sourced from OurWorldinData - from 98.7 to 226.9 million tonnes.

By comparison, the UK’s levels of consumption-based carbon dioxide have dropped, decreasing by 126.1 million tonnes - from 646.7 down to 520.7 million tonnes.

Even though the UK’s levels are still double that of Egypt’s in 2019, the UK is still on a downward trajectory and making progress compared to Egypt which is continuously increasing its levels year upon year.

Between 1995 and 2019, global emissions have increased by 56% - with 93 countries increasing their consumption and only 25 decreasing it. For countries that increased their emissions during this time period, the average increase was 203.5%.

What are the country’s environmental policies?

Egypt has implemented a clear environment strategy which states it “seeks to achieve environmental protection through the establishment of proper institutional, economic, legislative and technical frameworks at the local, regional, national and international levels.”

The country’s Environment Affairs Agency website also points towards Egypt’s Vision 2030 - a unified long-term political, economic, and social vision - which sets a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 10% from the energy sector, including oil and gas, by 2030.

The Egyptian government has also recently launched the National Climate Change Strategy to support the move to a greener, climate-resilient economy. The private sector is scaling up adaptation efforts and will play a key role in this transition.

To develop the green finance market, Egypt has issued the region’s first sovereign green bond to finance projects in clean transportation and sustainable water management. It has also been investing heavily in green energy, with plans to have 42% of Egyptian energy come from renewable sources by 2035.

Sustainable power plants have been constructed across the country - from the Benban Solar Park in Aswan to the wind power complex in the Red Sea.

Other developments include a recent agreement with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which will see the development of Eco-Industrial Parks in Egypt with funding by the government of Switzerland.

The Ministry of Environment also plans to double the number of recycling plants from 28 to 56 by 2030. It plans to do the same with carbon emission observatories, bringing them up from 115 to 300 in order to cut down on emissions by 50%.

The ministry has also been responsible for revamping Cairo’s waste collection system, monitoring networks to keep track of pollution and wastewater, and wide-reaching campaigns against plastic waste and e-waste.