UN climate change report calls for urgent action

Daily News Egypt
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Reconciliation, that is the theme of a new United Nations report on climate change titled “Promoting Development, and Saving the Planet.

The report hopes to foster reconciliation between groups focused on combating climate change and those interested in promoting economic development.

It is in the best interest of developing countries to press forward with economic development, the report says, which will also indirectly serve to confront climate change – a tone which is finding increasing resonance in policy circles over the past year.

Egypt is moving forward with ways to both maintain its economic growth and meet its economic goals. The Egyptian economy before the most recent financial crisis was moving forward at a brisk 7 percent growth rate.

The report called the energy needs of developing countries “one of the most overlooked aspects of the climate debate.

Developing countries face roaming blackouts, the report notes, and “globally, between 1.6 and 2 billion people lack access to electricity, and connecting those people to energy services will cost an estimated $25 billion per year over the next 20 years. This description certainly speaks toward the conditions in Egypt.

In Egypt, the demand for electricity increases 7 percent each year. Part of this demand is spurred by economic improvement as consumers began to make first time purchases of everything from televisions to air-conditioning units.

Even larger are the demands that industry puts on the Egyptian energy grid. These demands also rely on fossil fuels.

Many factories in Egypt burn mazot for power supply, which is the heavy oil left over after fuel products have been extracted from crude oil. Mazot produces extensive amounts of the greenhouse gases, according to IPS News.

A total of 311 factories in Egypt are scheduled to convert from mazot burning to natural gas as a power source, which is equivalent of removing 1.9 million cars from the roads of Cairo, IPS news reported.

In June, the World Bank announced plans to mange a $5.2 billion Clean Technology Fund for Egypt as well Turkey and Mexico, which will be administered through the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks.

The World Bank plans major investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and mass transit to reduce air pollution and meet development goals in these three emerging economies, according to the World Bank.

The fund is a temporary measure to supply concessional (low-interest) financing to scale up low carbon technologies pending negotiations on a new global climate change agreement.

Turkey, Egypt and Mexico will merge Clean Technology Fund financing – $250 million for Turkey, $300 million for Egypt and $500 million for Mexico – with World Bank Group and regional development bank funding, private and other financing for maximum impact, according to the World Bank repot.

Egypt hopes that 20 percent of its energy needs will be met by alternative sources of fuel by 2020. Last month Egypt began reviewing consultancy bids for its planned nuclear site.

While other sites are being considered El-Dabaa, a site on the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria remains the front runner. The El-Dabaa project is also likely to include a desalinization plan and if the project moves forward it is expected to be completed by 2015.

Egypt also has pioneered solar and wind options for producing electricity and worked to tie its power-grid to those of its neighbors. All moves which are in keeping with the spirit of the United Nations report.

The report harshly criticized both the failings of educational efforts to implement meaningful changes and so-called market based indicatives like cap-in-trade and a carbon tax.

The survey also proposed the following model for the effect of climate change on economic growth. The report suggested that for every 1°C rise in average global temperatures, annual average growth in poor countries would perhaps respond by dropping 2-3 percentage points. Developed countries will not be effected.

Critics are quick to note that projecting climate change and its effects on economic growth remain an inexact science.

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