Egypt’s Climate Lessons


As one of the most populous countries in North Africa and the Middle East, the effects of climate change in Egypt will hit alot of people. Some of the biggest issues the country is facing include desertification, dwindling water supplies and pollution. In fact Cairo is one of the most polluted cities on the face of the planet and according to a recent article by Ismail Abdel Gelil in Al-Masry Al-Youm:

  • 30 percent of Egypt’s agricultural area has deteriorated due to desertification
  • Water supplies in the regions of North Sinai are being harmed by excessive withdrawal
  • conservative estimates of global sea-level rises project that 34 percent of the Nile Delta will be flooded, displacing approximately 7 million people

Gelil, who attended a gathering in Fortaleza to review environmental protection efforts over the past 18 years, also laments the lack of action the Egyptian government is taking:

“Instead of being proactive, our officials only react after disasters strike and it’s already too late… We seem to insist that there is no connection between climate change on the one hand and water and power supplies on the other.”

Even so, Yahia Shawkat states there is alot that the people of Egypt can teach others on the path to sustainability.  According to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), Egypt contributes a mere 0.57 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The documentary Garbage Dreams also states that Cairo’s persevering community of garbage men and women have a recycling rate of 80 percent and there is also a low use of private transport in the city.

Even so,whilst Egypt – like many other developing countries- may produce small amounts of CO2 that does not protect them from the worst effects of climate change. In fact, it will be one of those first hit which is why it’s important for all of us to take up the sustainability message of its rural, resource-aware population.

Image via Joonas Plaan on flickr.

a gathering in the coastal city of Fortaleza to review environmental protection efforts over the past 18 years since the Earth Summit

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