Egypt, the host nation of COP27, announced in a joint declaration with the United States and Germany that it would “explore” a net zero goal, bring forward its target for the use of renewable energy sources, update its climate plan, and shut down a tenth of its gas power capacity. To show their support for this endeavor, Germany and the United States each made a commitment to “mobilize” €100 million in debt relief, €100 million in loans that they claimed to have favorable terms for, and €85 million in grants that do not have to be repaid. The United States asserted that this would “unlock” ten billion dollars in investments from the private sector, which would be managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
US Vice President Joe Biden made these remarks after announcing the partnership at COP27: “If we’re going to win this fight, every major emitter and nation needs to align with 1.5C.” The US government stated in a statement that a decrease in gas consumption would “enhance energy security by freeing up over two billion cubic meters of gas.” Egypt has the ability to export this gas to Europe, which has been frantically searching for supplies in order to replace imports from Russia ever since Russia invaded Ukraine. According to the rules of the United Nations, CO2 emissions are counted at the location where the gas is burned rather than at the location where it is produced. The consumption of Egyptian gas in Europe will be factored into the calculation of Europe’s emissions. During the extraction process, any methane that escapes into the atmosphere will be added to Egypt’s stockpile.
Egypt has committed to revising its climate plan by the end of June in the year 2023. It will “explore” a net zero target and include a long-term strategy centered on the year 2050. The year 2035 has been moved up as the target year for Egypt to meet its goal of obtaining 42% of its installed electricity capacity from renewable sources. It is planning to shut down 12 gas-fired power plants that it deems “inefficient,” totaling 5 gigawatts of capacity. The Global Energy Monitor estimates that Egypt’s 36 gas power plants have a combined capacity of 51 gigawatts (GW). Svenja Schulze, the German minister for development, stated that with this announcement, Egypt, in its role as host, sends a strong signal for more ambition in mitigation to the 27th Conference of the Parties.
She went on to say, “I particularly welcome the fact that Egypt’s new climate policies will also address the social aspect of transitioning to green economies.” There is no viable solution to the problem of climate change if social justice is not first achieved. According to the German development ministry (BMZ), a portion of the proceeds from the debt swap will be used to create new employment opportunities for individuals whose lives have been disrupted by the closure of gas plants. This initiative is known as the Nexus of Water, Food, and Energy Program (NWFE). This acronym translates to “fulfilling pledges” when spoken in Arabic.
It was not immediately clear what the statement meant with regard to the food and water components. It’s likely that they have something to do with making Egypt’s food and water supply more resistant to drought brought on by climate change. The governments of the United States and Germany expressed their concern to the Egyptian government regarding the detention of political activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah. Jennifer Morgan, who is the German envoy for climate change, spoke on a panel at the German pavilion alongside his sister. The relatives of El-Fattah report that the authorities are “medically intervening” to keep him alive while he continues his hunger strike inside the prison where he is being held.