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Opinion: Development and Climate Change - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Warsaw Climate Change Conference began last week in order to negotiate a new legal framework that is binding on all international parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change by 2015. This is all in preparation for the implementation of the new framework, beginning in 2020.

Without doubt, climate change has become a practical reality affecting people across the world, regardless of whether they live in developed countries, developing countries, landlocked countries, archipelagos, dry and arid countries, or countries suffering from devastating hurricanes and floods. This phenomenon can be seen in the typhoon that hit the Philippines this month and the major storm that hit New York City at the same time last year. And that is not to mention the huge fluctuations in rainfall, as well as the desertification and drought plaguing African and Arab countries and the related disputes over basic resources necessary for life and development.

Reaching an agreement that addresses the growing phenomenon of climate change requires the concerted efforts of all international countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all activities necessary for economic development, as well as adapting to the harmful effects of climate change. This must be done according to the extent of each country’s responsibilities, as well as its ability to reduce such emissions.

Therefore, the new legal framework will not replace the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agreed as the global environmental awakening started in 1992. Rather, the new framework we’re developing will complement the UNFCCC and be built on the same principles raised by it.

First and foremost is the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” which all countries agreed upon at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and emphasized at the Rio+10 and Rio+20 summits.

Developed countries have the financial resources to take environmental considerations into account when making economic decisions. Of course, they gathered these financial resources as a result of over a century of industrial activity—and the consequent environmental damage.

This has not been achieved by developing countries, however, which requires us to be consistent with the principles of equity and historical responsibility. We cannot ask these countries to transform their patterns of production and consumption in order to contribute to the reduction of emissions that are harmful to the global environment and climate.

In fact, doing so could hamper these countries’ chances of growth at a time when they are struggling to achieve a decent standard of living for their citizens. Moreover, the Earth’s atmosphere should be justly shared between countries through the determination of clear commitments on the part of developed countries to reduce emissions, in line with their historical responsibilities and the amount of support they should provide to developing countries. This includes finding solutions to issues regarding the transfer of technology and financing, so that intellectual property rights do not impede the transfer and settlement of technology in the developing world. Furthermore, funding that developed countries provide to developing ones should be new and unrelated to previous funding. This must take place in a predictable manner at the government level, with the possibility that other sources of funding will also be investigated.

Egypt is located in an area that has the world’s lowest per capita water availability, the lowest rainfall, and the scarcest water resources. Decision-makers in Egypt therefore realize that every drop of water that flows into the Nile—the only water resource in the country—has a significant value and impact on all aspects of life, not to mention the development efforts and plans of present and future generations.

Egyptians are well aware that the only way to confront the challenges of sustainable development—and the sustainability of life and civilization in the region—is constructive cooperation and integration among all the Nile Basin countries. These sisterly countries should benefit from the available opportunities, confront common threats and maximize the revenues from natural resources and manpower.

This will secure a better present and a more promising future for the countries and peoples of the region, as well as for the African continent. Our continent is considered to have been affected the most by climate change,but we have contributed the least to this phenomenon.

Therefore, Egypt is interested in coordinating with all international sides, particularly Arab and African countries, and utilizing all negotiation channels within the framework of the UNFCCC in order to reach a balanced agreement that achieves the required reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Egypt is actively contributing to the coordination of the developing countries’ stances on the negotiations of the Green Climate Fund, which seeks to raise climate funding of USD 100 billion per annum by 2020. The fund is seeking to raise this money from a variety of resources, including government and private sector investment. This is in order to achieve the desired objective of ensuring that the global temperature increase remains below 2 degrees Celsius.

There is no doubt that achieving this global and indispensable objective is not going to happen without constructive cooperation and interaction among all international countries to shoulder this historical responsibility at various stages of their growth.

Egypt looks forward to actively participating in the World Summit on Climate Change and discussed organizational developments with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last September. The summit is scheduled to begin next year to assess the progress achieved by international efforts to fight climate change. We must mobilize the necessary political will to confront this challenge, because threatens the coming generations’ future and their right to development.

Nabil Fahmi

Nabil Fahmi

Nabil Fahmi is an Egyptian diplomat and politician who has served in the interim government of Egypt as minister of foreign affairs since 2013.

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