Egypt's El Sisi strikes optimistic tone in climate change speech

Egyptian leader says threat to environment showcases humanity's fighting spirit

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi speaks during the opening of the World Youth Forum in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.  AFP

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Tuesday sought to inject hope into the global fight against climate change, saying the challenge was an opportunity to work harder to combat threats to the environment.

“Man is the only creature on the face of the Earth that’s able to at once destroy and repair,” he told delegates at an international youth conference held in the Red Sea city of Sharm El Sheikh.

“Negative developments show us the strength of the dynamics of human endeavours through which man can deal with them … In every crisis and every predicament lies a chance,” said the president, whose country will host the UN climate change conference, Cop27, in Sharm El Sheikh later this year.

During a panel discussion on the environment, he said: “What we must be sure of is that the danger will be dealt with by everyone, one way or another. That’s because, embedded in the danger, is an opportunity.”

The Egyptian leader said his country's contribution to carbon emissions was negligible on a global scale, but his government has gone to great lengths to bolster its green credentials.

As an example, he cited the gradual replacement of cars using fossil fuel, particularly those in public transport, with vehicles powered by electricity or natural gas.

Egypt is planning to generate 20 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2022. AFP

Since he took office in 2014, he said the government has cleaned Egypt’s polluted lakes after decades of negligence and cemented the banks and bottom of 40,000 kilometres of canals across the country to conserve water — at a cost of 80 billion Egyptian pounds ($5.08bn).

“These projects are very costly but they carry opportunities and improve the environment,” said the president.

Egypt, a nation of more than 100 million, has also been building up its solar power capacity and plans to build its first nuclear power station on its Mediterranean coast west of the port city of Alexandria.

Updated: January 11th 2022, 3:50 PM