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„Interview with H.E. Ambassador Frank Hartmann as published by Cairo24 on the 20th of September 2022“
COP27 comes at a crucial time: we can see and feel the disastrous effects of climate change everywhere on this planet, and the energy crisis caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has made it more than clear that reliance on fossil fuels is not a long-term solution. There is no doubt that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time. At COP27, the world comes together to set the roadmap for tackling this massive global task and it will not be an easy job. We all have to double down on our efforts and commitment to achieve the goal of keeping global warming within the 1,5-dergree-range and in order to reduce the impact and damage of climate change. Germany is committed to fulfil its share and to make sure the industrialized countries assume their responsibilities. That means finally reaching the 100 billion dollar goal for climate financing and doubling collective adaptation finance from 2019 levels. But, money alone will not solve the problem. We, therefore, hope to see ambitioned national action plans. We also believe in the necessity and advantage of a close exchange between policy makers and other actors such as civil society, economic players and scientists.
2) How can Germany and Egypt work together in combating climate change? Examples of ongoing projects?
Germany and Egypt have a long history of working together with regard to environment and climate change: Together with many dedicated and diligent Egyptian partners on the ground, (and) our implementation organizations GIZ and KFW, we have realized numerous projects reaching from hydropower, solar and wind energy plants to waste management over the years. We are supporting Egypt in various fields to achieve a sustainable, green modernization with the overall aim to improve the living conditions for the people. In addition, there are, of course, many German companies with a strong focus on sustainable solutions and future-proof technologies, examples like the Siemens high-speed electric train system and the plans for exploring the field of green hydrogen show the potential of German-Egyptian cooperation. But, fighting climate change is not only a task of development and economic cooperation, it is also a social and educational challenge. Therefore, our partners from DAAD, Goethe and our political foundations are very active in this field, too, and with „Cairo Climate Talks“ (CCT) we have established a unique platform to exchange experience, raise awareness and foster cooperation between policymakers, business, the scientific community and civil society.
3) How do you see Egypt’s efforts regarding human rights and the „National Dialogue“?
We are convinced that a strong civil society and respect for human rights stabilize societies and countries and protect them from extremism. Civil society organizations are essential actors when it comes to this, and their contribution to social progress and discourse must be acknowledged and supported. We are following the Egyptian „National Human Rights Strategy“ as well as the vivid discussions about the „National Dialogue“. From our point of view, it is essential that these initiatives translate into concrete measures and tangible results for Egyptian citizens. The voices that attach importance to freedom of expression, freedom of press, and other human rights, within the context of the „National Dialogue,“ should be heard. These principles must also reflected by actions on the ground to preserve the credibility of the National Dialogue’s approach.
4) How is the global energy crisis affecting Germany? Does it have an impact on Germany’s plan of cutting the use of coal? What role can Egypt and the Middle East play in buffering the impact on Germany?
Before the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, about 55% of the gas used in Germany came from Russia. As a result, Germany is now heavily affected by Moscow’s power games with coal, gas and oil. Against this background, we are working with high speed on diversifying our energy sources and exploiting new technologies, such as green hydrogen. Strengthening our energy cooperation with international partners is a key element within this process and the Middle East and Egypt can play an important role in this. The current energy crisis drastically shows how vulnerable reliance on fossil fuels can make us. On the long run, green energy is the only way to achieve stability and security –politically and on a climate-related level. Germany is, therefore, as committed as ever to fulfil its climate ambitions. We are doing everything to avoid a scenario, in which we could be forced to fall back on prolonging the runtime of coal plants as a temporary measure of last-resort. However, this does not change our plans regarding energy transition and our readiness to assume our responsibility in fighting climate change.
5) From your point of view, how do major global shocks like the war in Ukraine and the food crisis affect international climate action?
Climate change is the biggest security threat of our time. It requires immediate, joint action on a global level. Events like the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine that shattered relations and violated international law do surely not make this massive task any easier. Moscow’s use of food and energy as weapons in its hybrid war has caused a global crisis that exacerbates many existing problems and has a severe impact on vulnerable countries and social groups all over the world. Dealing with this, ties up international resources that we would urgently need in our joint fight against climate change. On the other hand, this global shock might also amplify the wake-up-call regarding climate change: in Germany, we have painfully realized where dependence on fossil fuels left us; energy transition is more urgent and our will to accelerate it is greater than ever. As Foreign Minister Baerbock has put it: every cent spent on solar cells, wind farms and green hydrogen systems is an investment in our security.
6) What is Germany’s position on GERD?
We understand that water is an essential good, especially for Egypt. Its cross-border-use is a delicate topic that requires clear arrangements and regulations. Germany supports any multi-lateral negotiation format, e.g. under the auspices of the African Union, the countries concerned can agree upon, in order to find a peaceful binding solution.