Egypt: Inventory and Mitigation Options,and Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment

Dr. Mohamed El-Raey

Dean, Institute of Graduate Studies & Research, Alexandria

Dr. Dia H.El-Quosy

Director, Water Management Research Institute, National Water Research Center

Dr. Mahmoud El-Shaer

Professor & Head of Agron. Dept., Cairo University

Dr. Osama A.El Kholy

Senior Advisor, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (Project Manager)

Eng. Ayat Soliman

Assistant to Project Manager, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency

SUMMARY: Egypt has been actively involved within United Nations forums in the deliberations leading to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which it signed in Rio in 1992. Egypt was one of ten countries that took the lead in implementing item 1.a in Article 4 concerning the development of a national inventory of anthropogenic emissions, as well as a preliminary assessment of mitigating measures as called for by item 1.b. This was undertaken within UNEP's project on the cost of abatement of GHG with financial and technical support from the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT). The study has shown that a reduction of more than 40 percent of the CO2 emissions in the year 2020 could be achieved at negative incremental costs. Egypt is now conducting a country study with U.S. support that will prepare a "Framework for a national action plan."


In 1993 Egypt concluded a cooperative agreement with the USA within the framework of the U.S. Country Studies Program to investigate further the implications of the climate change issue for Egypt. The first phase of the study aims at preparing a "framework for a national action plan" to address the issues of climate change appropriate to Egypt.

There are several important reasons for Egypt to be involved in such studies. Climate change could have an extremely dramatic effect on the flow of the Nile, causing the displacement of millions of people in the Nile delta due to changes in food production and sea level rise. A significant rise in the average annual temperature could also have adverse consequences on the living conditions and health of millions of people in the country.



Within the framework of UNEPs project on the Methodologies of Determining the Costs of Abatement of GHG emissions, a case study on Egypt was undertaken by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) in cooperation with the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) and the involvement of an expert team from different Egyptian organizations.

First, a comprehensive inventory for the year 1990 was prepared of all the GHG emissions mainly, but not exclusively, from energy activities. The results are summarized in Table 1. As the table shows, electricity generation, industry and transport sectors are the major producers of CO2, emitting a total of over 66 Mt annually. Rice paddies are, on the other hand, the main source of CH4. They are responsible for over 80 percent of methane production in Egypt. Finally, Nitrogen-based fertilizers and road transport are the main sources of nitrous oxide.

The different GHGs have different global warming potentials (GWPs). The corresponding distribution of GWPs of emissions for each sector is given in Figure 1.

The next and most important step was to establish, to the best of our present knowledge, a realistic scenario for the energy demand associated with the different economic sectors and that of the whole country. For supply options to satisfy these demands using available sources up to the year 2020. The energy consumption of the different sectors in the base scenario is shown in Figure 2. It should be noted that power production is treated here as a separate sector. When power generation, the largest energy consumer sector, is distributed among the other economic sectors, industry gets the predominant share, followed by the residential and commercial sectors. The primary energy supply by source is shown in Figure 3.

The corresponding GWPs of the GHG emissions are shown in Figure 4. The figure shows that the largest source of CO2 is heavy industry, although its share of energy consumption is much less than that of the electricity production sector.

Abatement Scenarios

Two abatement scenarios were considered: the first (A1) was to decrease the GHG emissions in the year 2020 to 25 percent, and the second (A2) to 50 percent of their values in the year 1990. In each of the economic sectors, a number of measures and/or technologies were considered for decreasing the GHG emissions. These technologies were based on one or more of the following techniques:

A great deal of concentration was focused on energy conservation, particularly in the industry, power production, and transport sectors, as its potential and cost-effectiveness in these sectors were rather high. Fuel substitution was primarily limited to replacing coal and petroleum products by natural gas as far as natural gas reserves permit. Other measures included the use of renewable energy, which was applied mainly in the power production, household, and agriculture sectors. Material replacement was considered to decrease the dependency on present energy-intensive construction materials. The replacement of Nitrogen-based fertilizers by fertilizers from sludge/compost, and options to increase GHG sinks through tree and crop plantation were applied in the agricultural sector. A list of all the measures considered in both abatement scenarios is given in Table 2.

After adjusting a base scenario for economic and energy growth of Egypt for the business-as-usual alternative using results of several optimization processes undertaken earlier in Egypt, both the bottom- up or engineering models and the top-down or macroeconomic models were used. In the bottom-up approach several measures/technologies were considered in each of the economic sectors to decrease CO2 emissions with respect to the base scenario. The cost curves of the different measures and technologies for the abatement of CO2 are shown in Figure 5 and Table 2, in which measures are arranged according to their costs. A considerable number of measures are cost- effective and have what are called "negative incremental costs." There might be hidden costs that are difficult to estimate at this stage, but the cost effectiveness of these actions is positive.

In the top-down approach the effects of energy conservation measures on the economy of the country (GDP, welfare, and investment) were studied using a macroeconomic model, with a horizon up to the year 2020. These measures were found to have a positive impact on the economy.


Assuming that the base scenario selected was a fairly good forecast of the business-as-usual scenario for Egypt, it was found that Egypt has considerable potential for energy conservation measures that should start at once, in view of their cost-effectiveness, as verified in the bottom-up approach, and their positive impact on the economy of the country, confirmed in the top-down approach.



Within the Egyptian Climate Change Country Study, three economic sectors of particular importance to Egypt were identified for the assessment of their vulnerability to climate change and the options available to adapt to the possible consequences of climate change. These sectors were:


Water Resources
Water supply in Egypt comes from three main sources:

The future climate changes for the Mediterranean region in general have been investigated (Wigley 1993). The results predicted a warming of about 3.5°C spreading uniformly over the seasons, with most of the Mediterranean basin showing an increase in precipitation in winter. The projected change in precipitation between now and 2050 is +1 mm/day. As for the Nile basin, we cannot yet predict with confidence the nature of future climatic changes. However, there are indications that such changes will be significant and possibly severe. Recent and predicted future precipitation changes over the Nile basin (Hulme 1989), and monitoring of the upper White Nile catchment, upper Blue Nile catchment, and Middle Nile Basin from 1880‹ 1989 show declines in total precipitation. Global circulation models (GCM) for 1861‹ 1988 show an overall warming of 0.5°C for this period. Various GCM models have been applied to study the potential climate change impacts on the Nile Basin, as can be seen in Table 3(Saleh et al. 1994).

A large gap still exists in our knowledge and information on the vulnerability of this crucial sector for Egypt. Recommended actions include enhancement of knowledge on climatological models, monitoring and forecasting, and implementing water management schemes to ensure water saving and conservation.

Agricultural Resources
In the first phase of the study, some of the effects of climate change on cropping patterns and distribution in Egypt were identified. Plant production is characterized in Egypt by two main features: diversification and intensification. In this way the agricultural year (Nov-Oct) includes monoculture (orchards or sugarcane), double cropping (winter - summer season crops), and triple cropping (winter - early summer - autumn crops). The outcome of all these patterns forms an intensification index of more than 2.0. With the expected changes in global climate, drastic changes in the whole system of cropping are likely to occur. Consequently, the focus will be on more adaptive types of crops and/or modifications in the microclimates to cope with the expected changes. New dates for planting crops of different species or cultivars need to be investigated. Advanced dates for planting summer crops and delayed dates for planting winter crops should also be tested. Crop plants differ in their response to changes in CO2 and temperature. Increases in CO2 concentration increase the rate of plant growth. C3 plants respond positively to increased CO2, while C4 plants, although more efficient in utilizing current CO2 levels, are less responsive to increased CO2 concentrations. The most important C3 plants are wheat, rice, and soybean, while C4 plants include maize, sorghum, sugarcane, and millet. Computerized crop models (e.g., DSSAT, IBSNAT and ICASA) have indicated that, at the national level, differences in areas devoted to the above crops are likely to occur due to climate change. Growing more small grains (wheat and barley) is advisable rather than more coarse grains (maize and sorghum). Rice areas could be increased, but the problem of water shortage will be a limiting factor.

So far, there is very little information on the impacts of climate change on pests and their control, on livestock or on marine resources. This is a serious gap that calls for an extensive national effort.

Coastal Zones and Resources
Climate change is expected to have serious impacts over coastal regions all over the world. In particular, many investigators have warned against impacts on low-lying deltaic coasts, especially those in Egypt and Bengal.

The shoreline of Egypt extends for about 3000 km and could be divided into four distinct sectors:

a. The coasts of the western desert (west of the city of Alexandria)
b. The Nile River delta and vicinity between the cities of Alexandria and Port-Said, including the coasts of the cities of Rosetta and Damietta
c. The coastal zone of the Sinai Peninsula
d. The coastal zone of the Red Sea

These coastal zones constitute a particularly important region from the economic, industrial, social and cultural points of view. In addition to increased tourism activities, a tremendous move towards building new industrial complexes is in progress at this time. However, the coastal zone suffers from a number of serious problems, including population growth, land subsidence, erosion, water logging, salt water intrusion, soil salination, ecosystem pollution and degradation, and lack of appropriate institutional management coordination. Realizing the importance of this zone, the Egyptian government has already taken steps towards reducing the impact of these problems.

Problems of the impact of sea level rise (SLR), due to climate change, on the Egyptian delta and adjacent areas have been taken particularly seriously. Several studies have been carried out to assess the vulnerability of this region (e.g., Broadus et al. 1986, 1993; Sestini 1987, 1992; El-Raey et al. 1990, 1992, 1994; CRI and Delft 1993; Stanley et al. 1988, 1990, 1993). As a result, areas of high vulnerability in the Nile delta and possible socioeconomic impacts have been generally defined. These areas include Alexandria and Behaira governorate, Port Said and Damietta governorates, and Suez governorates. In addition, several other smaller areas, such as those near Matruh and north of Lake Bardaweel, have also been identified.

A pilot quantitative assessment was carried out over Alexandria governorate (El-Raey et al. 1994). The main objective was to explore possibilities of use of remote sensing and GIS techniques to obtain a quantitative assessment of the vulnerability of each environmental sector to the impacts of SLR. Satellite images of the governorate were used to obtain information on land use in the coastal area and were supplemented by available ground survey data. A geographic information system (IDRISI software) was built and checked with information based on available ground data. A scenario of SLR of 0.5 m, 1.0 m, and 2.0 m was assumed. Analysis of the GIS data for the three scenarios indicates the capability of the technique to map vulnerable areas and to quantitatively assess vulnerable sectors in each area.

Table 4 presents gross percentage loss for each scenario of SLR. It illustrates that the agricultural sector is the most severely impacted sector (a loss of over 90 percent), followed by the industrial sector (loss of 65 percent) and the tourism sector (loss of 55 percent) due to a SLR of 0.5 m, if no protection action is taken. Estimation of the socioeconomic impact due to loss of land and jobs is possible using employment statistics relevant to each sector. Results of the impact on population and loss of employment are shown in Table 5. It is estimated that a SLR of 0.5m in the governorate of Alexandria alone would cause a displacement of almost 1.5 million people and a loss of about 200,000 jobs by the middle of the next century if no action were taken.

The most important limitation of these results is the lack of recent land-use data and recent reliable topographic and socioeconomic data. However, upgrading the topographic data using GPS (Geopositioning Satellites) and the land use data using high spatial resolution imaging satellites, and building geographic information systems on a more advanced ARC/INFO environment are now well- mastered techniques. It is therefore recommended that a program be carried out, using the already available quantitative methodology, to update and upgrade the Alexandria vulnerability study. In addition, it is necessary to carry out a detailed vulnerability assessment for two other highly vulnerable areas (Port-Said- Damietta and Suez) as well as a number of other small vulnerable areas along the Egyptian coasts.


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