As the U.N. climate conference takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, we look at the effects of the climate crisis for the host country, such as rising temperatures and sea levels in the Nile Delta. Ahmed El Droubi, Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa, says “the most significantly impacted sector in Egypt is definitely the agricultural sector.” Egyptians are calling for wealthy nations to be held accountable for causing the bulk of the climate crisis, only to be met with “temporary solutions that do not address the core of the climate crisis,” he adds.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting live from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, a country that is warming faster than the global average and in many ways is a bellwether for the painful effects of climate change.
Egypt is facing everything from rising seas and drought to desertification and deadly heat. The Nile Delta is considered one of the most vulnerable large deltas in the world to be directly affected by climate change by 2050, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Egyptian farmers are already struggling after changing weather patterns have severely affected crop yields in a country that's facing rising food insecurity. Along with agricultural productivity, water scarcity and soil salination are among the most pressing issues Egypt faces.
Egyptian authorities have launched a national strategy for tackling climate change for 2050, in which the government would spend $113 billion for adaptation programs. It envisions almost half that budget going to agriculture, although it says most of the money has yet to be raised.
For more on the climate crisis here in Egypt, as well as the rest of the region, we’re joined by Ahmed El Droubi, Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa.
It’s great to have you with us. We only have a few minutes, but if you could lay out the scope of the issue as we sit here right next to the Red Sea?
AHMED EL DROUBI: Well, you highlighted — well, first of all, thank you for hosting.
First of all, you highlighted it very — you summed it up very well. The most significantly impacted sector in Egypt is definitely the agricultural sector. And it’s facing many different threats. We have already seen the impacts happening, especially over the last decade. For example, something like the olive harvest has been impacted heavily at least five out of the last 10 years. There are many risks to more significant crops, such as wheat, which is the source of our subsistence in this country. And this is made so much worse by geopolitical events, such as the war in Ukraine, where Egypt imports 60% of its wheat, a majority of which comes from Russia and Ukraine.
And we are feeling the impacts of the global food crisis here more significantly than elsewhere. What we’ve seen in the agricultural sector is that new pests and new diseases have been able to acclimatize to the changes in weather. We’ve seen that seasons have been shortened, and therefore impacting yields. We’ve seen that waves of heat or cold waves can impact yields significantly, as well. And we’ve had our mango season impacted heavily last year, which is a vital crop for a great deal of farmers in eastern Egypt, in the kind of canal region, where they suffered a great deal of economic losses. The Nile Delta is known to be threatened to be, you know, covered by sea water. But now we can see an impact. Soil salinification and sea water infusion is happening. If you simply look at satellite images, you can see that the first rows of farms across the Delta have changed into — have moved into aquaculture and are no longer able to provide food. And it’s a growing crisis.
And the Nile itself, models predict that the standard deviation will increase by 50%. That means, in the future, it’s double as likely for droughts or floods to happen. And this lack of predictability, along with the fact that Egypt is already under the water poverty line, and putting into that the geopolitical issues with Ethiopia, with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, it creates a high likelihood of conflict, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think Egypt has to do? And what do you think the nations that are most responsible for the climate crisis, like the U.S. and China and Western countries, need to do, in this last minute we have?
AHMED EL DROUBI: Well, this is the point of these negotiations. And it’s — you know, it’s an oversimplification, but it hits the nail on the head. For 30 years we’ve been negotiating one question: whether those that have caused this climate crisis will be held accountable and liable for their actions. And so far, they have refused to take responsibility. The founding principles of the UNFCCC, of common but differentiated responsibility and the polluter pays, have been watered down over decades. And sadly, we are seeing this today with negotiations around loss and damage, even after the horrendous impacts of the climate emergency this year, especially in Pakistan, Nigeria and many other places. 'Til today, we are looking for — they're proposing false solutions, temporary solutions, that do not address the core of the climate crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, that’s what we’re going to be doing all week, is addressing the core issues here: who’s responsible, what needs to be done. Ahmed El Droubi is the Greenpeace regional campaign manager for the Middle East and North Africa. That’s right. All this week, Democracy Now! is broadcasting live from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from the COP27, 27th Conference of Parties, the U.N. climate summit.
Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Denis Moynihan, Mary Conlon. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.