Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has articulated the central importance of the ‘COP27’ his country will host next month in the winter resort of Sharm El Sheikh, calling for pulling the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC out of the ongoing context of “strong political and economic polarisation and the dynamics of politicisation and contestation.”
“COP27 will be held amidst a global context of strong geopolitical and geo-economic tension and polarisation that we hope will not make it more difficult to tackle common global challenges, notably climate change. We need to spare this milestone session of the conference the ongoing international conflicts, disputes, and contestations, because any failure to address the climate change challenges, or any backtracking on climate pledges will get the world to a ‘point of no return’ beyond which extremely dangerous climate change impacts can become unavoidable,” the Egyptian top diplomat told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an interview held at the HQ of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry in Cairo.
“This has been a message we’ve been sending out over the past period to all parties concerned, whether through the informal ministerial meetings that were held throughout the year or during the preparatory meeting for COP27, which was held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo earlier this month. All these parties should honour their shared responsibilities and focus on this existential issue facing humanity at large, which is climate change. We must make sure that the ongoing international conflicts and crises and the current global polarisation won’t in any way spill over to this field.”
Shoukry in this regard cited international reports regarding the need to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. “If we go beyond 1.5 degree of global warming, negative consequences will become unavoidable, and it will be impossible for the world to go back to where we used to be,” he warned.
“The parties participating in the climate summit should realise that the core and crux of this conference is to address the climate change challenges, and that it is not a forum to address any other issues that is not relevant to climate action. Therefore, our common interest is to continue pushing forward towards concerted international efforts from all parties concerned to address this burning issue that’s taking a toll on all of us. All possible efforts must be made to pull the conference out of the ongoing context of strong political and economic polarisation and the dynamics of politicisation and contestation.”
Asked on the approaches adopted by Egypt toward the global efforts made to address climate change, Shoukry said, “COP27 focuses on a set of key climate-related issues, primarily emissions reduction; adaptation to the negative effects of climate change; financing; and the issue of losses and damages.
“There is a consensus that tackling these key issues hinges on the ability of the international community to deal with the challenges of climate change and to work on building confidence among all parties – developed and developing countries – to provide the necessary resources so that the concerned countries can assume their responsibility toward a fair, sustainable transition from dependence on fossil fuels to the new and renewable energy and embark on a path of negotiation and consultation on the issue of losses and damages.”
The Egyptian presidency, he continued, is working to provide a favourable ecosystem to encourage all parties concerned to reach a consensus, and to make concessions that ultimately serve the collective interest to realise the aspired goal. “Throughout 2022, we have been working to encourage the world countries to increase their voluntary national commitments in the context of reducing emissions, as well as to emphasise the importance of adaptation. We all have seen the devastating consequences of the recent floods and torrents in Pakistan and the need for the Pakistani government to take measures to protect their people. And to do that, there must be resources for such countries to remedy these effects and to work to contain them. Therefore, we hope there will be consensus and clear political will that leads to the achievement of this common goal.”
On the strategic messages that Egypt intends to convey through the climate summit, Shoukry said that they are all concerns shared by the international community: “They are messages from the international community. During the first two days of the conference, a high-level debate will be held. We have made a call for the largest possible participation from world leaders in this discussion to express the political will needed to address the issue of climate change. A large number of presidents and heads of government have confirmed their attendance, and we hope that they will all support reaching a consensus to take the measures necessary to build confidence among the Parties of the UNFCCC. Also, there are Egyptian initiatives that will be launched during the conference on food security, agriculture, green hydrogen, new and renewable energy, in addition to a call for ensuring decent life in Africa. We hope these initiatives will be supported, not only by the governments, but also by the business community and civil society organisations, whose roles are indispensable to ensure concerted efforts by all governmental and non-governmental parties to address climate change issues.
“Also, during COP27, presidential round-table meetings will be held to address key elements and initiatives within the framework of the Climate Summit and the challenges facing us all, in addition to summit meetings to highlight some initiatives launched by sisterly countries and partners to enhance the way the world addresses climate challenges.”
Asked on how he sees the Egyptian-Emirati partnership in COP27, Shoukry said that the Egyptian-Emirati partnership goes beyond the climate conference. “It is a deeply rooted relationship of brotherhood, partnership and love that connects the two leaderships and peoples at all levels. There is certainly coordination between Egypt and the UAE through the Egyptian team in COP27 and the Emirati team that is working on preparing for the COP28. This coordination aims to ensure the usual exchange of views. The progress to be made within COP27 will be echoed and built upon during the next edition of the event in order to forge ahead with confronting clime challenges in the best possible manner.”
He added that there remains close coordination between the Egyptian and Emirati teams, before and after COP27, given that “Egypt will assume the presidency of the COP27 for a year after the conference and will then hand it over to the UAE to lead the path during COP28.”
The Egyptian top diplomat highlighted in this regard the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries that will be held in Cairo under the slogan ‘One Heart’. Ministers, officials and Emirati and Egyptian personalities including businessmen, intellectuals, media professionals and public figures will attend the three-day event that will begin on October 26.
“It’s an occasion to evoke the present and the past. The two brotherly peoples will remain indebted to and proud of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his impactful role in strengthening the ties of friendship and love between the two fraternal countries and their peoples,” Shoukry affirmed.
Shared Concerns & Aspirations
On the concerns and aspirations shared by Egypt and the UAE in the field of environment, Shoukry said, “Certainly, there is shared interest on the part of the two countries in the protection of the environment. We both are fully aware of the climate change danger and of the necessity of ensuring cooperation at the bilateral, regional, and international levels.
“We share the same interest in developing the capabilities of the two countries in the field of new and renewable energy, by accelerating investments in our two countries, promoting modern technologies on the challenges of climate change, and working to enhance the national capabilities of both countries through collaboration and investment. We both share the same interest, and this manifests itself in hosting two successive editions of the climate summit, COP27 and COP28. This is the first time that two Arab countries are entrusted with this responsibility, and God willing, we will be able to fulfil our commitments in the best possible way.”
Shoukry expressed hope the Arab Summit 2022, to be hosted by Algeria next month, will consolidate pan-Arab solidarity in facing the international challenges besetting the Arab world.
“We hope that the Arab summit will strengthen deliberations on the besetting challenges and develop an appropriate framework for dealing with these threats by strengthening solidarity and integration between Arab countries. The Arab world abounds in massive resources and capabilities at the human or material levels that should place us in a strong position where we can have considerable influence in international affairs to enhance our ability to contain and address challenges, and help our peoples realise their ambitions, while sparing them the negative impact of the current geopolitical conditions.”
In this regard, the Egyptian top diplomat emphasised the central importance of the Palestinian cause, being “a pivotal issue for the entire Arab world”, underscoring the necessity of continuing to support the Palestinian people in their strife for achieving their aspirations and establishing their own state.
“In the meantime,” the minister stressed, “the essential issue remains to be the indivisibility of the Arab national security. The Arab security is an indivisible whole and all Arab countries are working together to protect our national security and protect our supreme interests within the framework of international relations that are based on mutual respect and promotion of common interests between us and with our international partners.”