Egypt bears $2.4bn annually due to pollution… How did it change its policy to transition to a green economy?

Mohamed Farag
6 Min Read

Over the past years, Egypt has been suffering from an increase in pollution, which prompted the government to take a package of measures to prevent the crisis from worsening and preserve the environment.

According to World Bank estimates, the environmental degradation resulting from air pollution costs Egypt about 5% of the annual GNP, or about $2.4bn annually.

Many ozone-depleting substances that were used in consumer, industrial, and agricultural products have been phased out.

Additionally, a national strategy has also been prepared to stop the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used in many different sectors, the most important of which are the foam, thermal insulation, refrigeration, and air conditioning industries.

The green economy is an opportunity to skip development stages and apply advanced technologies to achieve food security, provide energy in rural areas, as well as a clean water supply, housing, sanitation facilities, and public transportation, which can create job opportunities and contribute to the eradication of poverty.

Hany Aziz — a consultant on environment and green economy — believes that the government must prioritise the transition to a green economy, and that the green economy should be based on resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Furthermore, the green economy should not be used as a means to impose trade restrictions or conditions on aid or debt relief, and it should address trade distortions, such as environmentally harmful subsidies, he said.

Egypt’s strategy to transition to a green economy includes expanding the specific objectives of certain sectors — such as the energy and transportation sectors — as well as focusing on strategies, investments, and public policies that can advance the path of the green economic transformation.

The government has begun reviewing and redesigning government policies to stimulate shifts in production, consumption, and investment patterns.

It also followed an integrated plan to pay attention to rural development with the aim of alleviating poverty in the countryside while increasing resources, in addition to improving water quality, controlling its use, rationalising it, and preventing pollution.

Moreover, the government is working to attract investments in energy efficiency and sustainability through projects in various fields. It is also working on developing low-carbon strategies for industrial development and adopting cleaner production technologies.

Ahmed Kamal — Director of the Environmental Compliance and Sustainable Development Office of the Federation of Industries — said that a national programme has been implemented to promote the development of industrial zones into green, environmentally friendly, industrial zones.

Environmental compensation has also been imposed on every industrial, commercial, or service facility that violates environmental rules and laws and causes damage to the environment.

Coordination is taking place with the concerned authorities to work on the optimal use of resources and rationalise their consumption, in addition to the solar lighting project programme for some of the ministry’s facilities — within the sustainable development programme — according to Kamal.

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has developed an integrated plan to increase the contribution of renewable energy from the total electric capacity produced on the national grid, where the percentage currently reaches 20% and is planned to increase to more than 42% in 2035.

It has provided an opportunity for international and Arab companies to invest in the field of electricity production from solar and wind energy plants, as well as invest in green hydrogen production and water desalination using renewable energy.

Furthermore, the ministry — in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Nasser Bank — is implementing a project to replace taxi cabs in Greater Cairo. This project aims to reduce 264,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually while bringing in economic and social revenues.

Additionally, the Ministry of Environment is implementing an ambitious programme to convert government cars to run on natural gas instead of gasoline.

It is also cooperating with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ban the production and import of two-stroke motorcycles and replace them with four-stroke motorcycles to reduce air pollution.

Moreover, it has contributed to preparing a draft law on the participation of the public and private sectors in infrastructure projects in order to attract more investments, including in the energy sector, to allow adaptation to the effects of climate change.

The environment ministry is also implementing industrial pollution control and environmental protection programmes for the private sector and the industrial public business sector, which include 120 projects to reduce industrial pollution.

The shift towards rational industries consuming natural materials, encouraging cleaner industrial production, reusing water, and controlling industrial sewage was also encouraged.

Meanwhile, in the agricultural sector, the focus has been on integrated agricultural management methods, raising the efficiency of water use in agriculture, improving irrigation and drainage systems, and modifying the crop structure in favour of less water-consuming crops.

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