Country Climate Profile – Egypt
Egypt is confronting significant threats from the impacts of climate change. The country’s heavy reliance on the Nile River for 88 percent of its water supply, coupled with 97 percent of its population residing in the Nile River Delta, means that any substantial reduction in the Nile’s flow poses a grave danger to Egypt’s stability.
Egypt’s large population of over a million people, growing at 2.5 percent per year, above the global population growth average (1 percent), exacerbates the country’s vulnerability to the changing climate. Densely populated cities and urban areas in the Nile Delta will be significantly impacted by the combined effects of sea level rise (SLR), increasing flood events, and water availability challenges.
Moreover, the hot and arid climate in Egypt exacerbates the situation. Daily temperatures vary, ranging in moderate seasons from 17 to 20 degrees Celsius along the Mediterranean coast. In the hot summer season, temperatures surpass 40 degrees Celsius, especially in the southern upper part of the country.
In terms of water precipitation, Egypt receives very limited rainfall. The highest precipitation levels occur along the Mediterranean, averaging 200 millimeters per year. However, as one moves away from the coastal regions, precipitation rates drop significantly. Overall, most parts of Egypt receive an average of merely 2 millimeters of precipitation annually.
As a result of climate change, Egypt, which is already characterized by a dry and arid climate, is expected to witness a rise in both average temperatures and extreme heat events. Notably, temperatures in Egypt have already experienced an increase in the past few decades, with a rate of 0.53°C per decade over the last 30 years.
Looking ahead to the middle of this century, it is projected that temperatures will further increase, with estimates ranging from 1.5°C to 3°C. The most significant temperature rises are anticipated in the country’s interior regions, particularly during the growing season. This trend will also contribute to a greater occurrence of heatwaves, marked by increased severity, frequency, and duration. By mid-century, it is expected that there will be an average of 40 additional days with extremely high temperatures each year.
The heightened temperatures will lead to an intensification of water evaporation, thereby increasing the demand for water resources and exacerbating water scarcity issues within the country. Furthermore, research indicates that an increase in temperatures from 26°C to 31°C can result in a substantial 30 percent decrease in labor productivity.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
In relative terms, Egypt is among the lowest global contributors to gas emissions, accounting for just 0.6 percent of global emissions. Nevertheless, the country has witnessed a significant increase in total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with a remarkable 163 percent growth observed between 2005 and 2015. On a per capita basis, this signifies a 47 percent increase during the same period.
Emissions in Egypt are closely linked to the nation’s economic growth, with approximately 80 percent of the country’s total emissions attributed to the energy, transport, and industry sectors. A transition toward reduced carbon emissions can potentially enhance Egypt’s competitive edge and promote economic expansion. This is due to changing consumer preferences leaning towards more environmentally friendly and lower carbon footprint products and policies.
Egypt is recognized as a water-scarce country. The yearly water supply from the Nile River typically stands at 55.5 billion cubic meters (BCM), which falls short by 33.75 BCM compared to the projected demand.
The rapidly growing population, along with climate alterations, is expected to push Egypt toward the critical level of extreme water scarcity, defined as 500 cubic meters per person per year, by the year 2033. By 2037, there is also an anticipated decrease in per capita drinking water, dropping from 309 liters per capita per day (lpcd) to 242 lpcd.
Impact on Poverty and Social Disparities
The social cost of climate change is not equally distributed in Egypt. Climate change is expected to have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, leading to an increase of more than 9 million people (0.8 percent of the population) living below the poverty line (with less than $4 a day) by the end of 2030, due to climate change impacts (effects on agriculture, health, temperature, and increased natural disasters).
Additionally, the cumulative effects of climate change on water supply, agriculture, air quality, and tourism could result in significant economic losses ranging from 2 percent to 6 percent of Egypt’s GDP by 2060, based on World Bank statistics.
The expanding urban population in Egypt, with an approximate influx of 41.4 million new urban residents anticipated in the next 30 years, will create added pressure on public services and increase the vulnerability of inhabitants to climate-related hazards. Furthermore, the upper region of Egypt, where nearly half of the impoverished population resides and depends mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods, is expected to experience the most substantial impact.
Impact on Health
In Egypt, dust and sandstorms are already prevalent, and they are linked to an increase in infectious diseases like influenza and pneumonia. They also exacerbate non-infectious health issues, such as respiratory problems in children and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases in the elderly.
Climate change will indirectly influence health by altering the geographical ranges and distribution of diseases transmitted by vectors and water-borne pathogens. It will also impact the availability of water and food resources.
While the health consequences of climate change and extreme weather will affect the entire population of Egypt, vulnerable groups, including the elderly, children, women, individuals with preexisting health conditions, and those in rural areas with limited resources, will be disproportionately affected.
Egypt ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol to the Convention in 1995. Policy actions taken by the government to respond to changes in climate can be summarized in the chart below:
To encourage the shift toward a greener and climate-resilient economy, the Egyptian government has recently launched the National Climate Change Strategy. This strategy provides a blueprint for the private sector to improve its efforts in adapting to climate change and actively engaging in this transformative journey.
Furthermore, Egypt has made strides in nurturing its eco-friendly finance sector by introducing the inaugural sovereign green bond in the MENA region in 2020. The primary aim of this green bond is to finance projects related to clean transportation and sustainable water management.
Key environment indicators
Key Impact Areas
- World Bank Group – Egypt: Country Climate and Development Report
- The World Bank – Egypt – Climate Change Knowledge Portal
- USAID – Climate Change Risk Profile
- UNFCC NDC Egypt
- UNICEF – Children’s Climate Risk Index Report
Relevant Publications and Reports
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