The State of Egypt’s Sustainability Agenda

Karim Elgendy

Two weeks ago, The English version of a leading Egyptian daily published an opinion piece on entitled “Our local ‘green’ agenda.” In his article, the author made a number of intriguing arguments that suggest that Egypt has a unique environmental agenda and a set of sustainability priorities that are different from the predominant global ones.  He also suggests that imported ‘green’ concepts fail to take into consideration ingrained conservationist behaviors that already exist in Egypt.

While I agree that each country must develop a local approach to sustainability which responds to its specific socio-economic and environmental needs, I found many of the author’s arguments to lack sufficient context, and was therefore concerned that the article could potentially result in an inaccurate representation of the state of sustainability in Egypt.

Cairo's Old City. Copyrights: Karim Elgendy

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The State of Energy Efficiency Policies in Middle East Buildings

Karim Elgendy

Energy use in buildings accounts globally for nearly 40% of global energy consumption and 36% of total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. These percentages are almost equally split in two halves between the industrialized countries and the rest of the world (Price et al., 2005).

Our buildings use energy in two ways; first, to keep our interior environment comfortable through cooling, ventilation, and heating our spaces; second, to power the appliances that we have come to depend on such as home appliances, lighting systems,computers, and other office equipments.  To reduce this high percentage of energy use and the resultant carbon dioxide emissions, both sources of energy use in buildings must be addressed. The first energy use can be addressed by improving the building envelope’s efficiency in order to reduce the need to condition its spaces (cooling, heating, and ventilating). This method of conserving energy use includes a vast array of passive low energy design strategies that depend on the building’s environment and context. The second energy use can be addressed by improving the efficiency of appliances and equipment used inside buildings including improving the efficiency of lighting and dissemination of improved stoves for cooking in rural areas. Continue reading The State of Energy Efficiency Policies in Middle East Buildings

The Arab World’s Opinion on Climate Change

Karim Elgendy

A pan-Arab survey conducted by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED)  found that a resounding majority of 98% believed that the climate is changing.

The survey sample which included a big segment of educated people (who more reflect the views of those nearer to decision making, than proportionally reflect the actual population mix) showed that only a small portion of 5%  said they did not understand what climate change was, reaching a maximum of 11% in Syria. However, 95% of those who said they did not understand what climate change was, still answered that they believed the weather was changing,  (Figure 1).  A majority of 89% also thought that this change was due to human activities, including excessive use of energy and depletion of resources, (Figure 2). These results clearly showed that climate change has become widely accepted by the public in Arab countries as a fact which needs to be addressed. Moreover, the survey showed that the skeptical attitudes which prevailed among some groups on the facts and causes of climate change, either denying it entirely or limiting it to natural causes, are decreasing.

Survey Figure 1. Source: AFED Arab Environment Climate Change Report.

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The Impact of Sea Level Rise on The Arab World

Karim Elgendy

In recent years much of the discussion about the impact of climate change around the world has caused a mix of anxiety and fear about the impacts this may have on human life and the environment. Many detailed studies have shown by using simulation models the impact of sea level rises on coastal cities around the world if sea level were to rise by a certain degree.  These studies showed that generally speaking, it was low lying areas and river deltas that were most vulnerable, especially when these deltas are densely populated.

Figure 1. Relative vulnerability of coastal deltas as shown by the indicative population potentially displaced by current sea-level trends to 2050 (Extreme = > 1 million; High = 1 million to 50,000; Medium = 50,000 to 5,000 (following Ericson et al.,2006). Source Nicholls, R.J., P.P. Wong, V.R. Burkett, J.O. Codignotto, J.E. Hay, R.F. McLean, S. Ragoonaden and C.D. Woodroffe, 2007

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