Cop 27: Egypt at the heart of climate issues

The Cop 27 opened last Sunday in the seaside resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt, and will end on November 18. It is the first time in 30 years that a world conference on climate is held on the African continent.


Egypt becomes, for this 2022 edition, the host of the Cop 27 for 15 days. After a summer marked by high temperatures, environmental and climate issues are more than ever at the heart of concerns. Egypt is one of the most affected and vulnerable countries in the face of climate change.


The threshold of a limitation to 1.5 degrees of global warming set by the Paris Agreement in 2015 already seems out of reach. At this new council, and despite the urgency, many countries are absent. Unsurprisingly, the presidents of China, Russia and India are not attending the event, but also, more surprisingly, the leaders of Canada and Australia.


In Europe, as in the rest of the world, this summer has given a glimpse of the climatic disturbances and the latent dramas induced. According to a UN report, the last eight years have been the hottest on record.


In this country of 106 million inhabitants, very densely populated as Egypt is, one of the main challenges announced is that of water. For by 2100, experts estimate that the number of inhabitants could reach 224 million.


Eighty percent of its resources come from the fresh water of the Nile, the longest river in the world, which stretches over 6,700 km.  “Egypt is very dependent on this almost unique water resource,” Pierre Camberlin, a CNRS researcher at the Climatology Research Center of the University of Burgundy, told Ouest France. The country could reach the threshold of water shortage within fifteen years. This element also causes tensions with neighboring countries. In particular Ethiopia, which has inaugurated a very large dam on the Blue Nile.


The other issue is in the north of the country, on the Mediterranean side. On this strip of land where millions of people live, including 5.5% of Egyptians, the rise in water levels could reach 73 cm by 2100. And make 1% of the country’s surface disappear.


We will not be able to save these areas and the people who live on them. This part of the northern Delta is doomed,” confirms Wolfgang Cramer, climatologist and specialist in the Mediterranean. The city of Alexandria, its national port as well as its entire heritage are bound to disappear under the waters.


Global warming is at the heart of this problem and concerns other places in the world, which are also likely to be swallowed up by rising water levels, such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands or New York in the United States.


A social and natural threat


This rise in sea level does not only threaten the inhabitants, but also the agriculture, which is very present in the Nile Delta. The invasion of salt water into the water tables could threaten the irrigation of crops. Climatologist Jean Jouzel states, “The penetration of salt water into the soil makes it much less productive.” Wolfgang Cramer backs up his words, “There is land in the Nile Delta that can no longer be irrigated because the water is salty. This is likely to get worse in the coming years.


According to meteorologists’ forecasts, temperatures could rise by 2.12° in 2050, up to 3.96° in 2100. With heat peaks of 55° during the most extreme heatwaves.


On the European continent, the equally dramatic figures also raise questions. Today, the European Environment Agency announced that if no measures were taken to adopt by 2100, more than 90,000 Europeans could die each year as a result of heat waves. A figure that would fall to 30,000 if the Paris Agreement is respected.


Record drought in East Africa, floods in Pakistan, heat waves and giant fires in Europe and the United States, many topics will be discussed at Cop27. And this 27th edition calls on all member states to accelerate their climate action.


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Featured photo : © Press

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