UN-Habitat Executive Director: Benban solar Park 'source of pride' to Egypt, reduces 2M tons of CO2 emissions annually



Sat, 30 Oct 2021 - 10:30 GMT


Sat, 30 Oct 2021 - 10:30 GMT

Benban Solar Park - State Information Service

Benban Solar Park - State Information Service

CAIRO- 30 October 2021: Projects like Benban solar Park in Aswan, which is one of the largest solar power projects in the world, reduces carbon emissions by 2 million tons annually, said Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Maimunah Mohd Sharif in her speech at the celebration of the World Cities Day in Luxor on Saturday.


She added that such projects should be a source of “national pride,” saying “Egypt has also embarked since 2014 on a strong energy subsidy reform program, and this has been crucial in reducing wasteful consumption and in strengthening the viability of the renewable energy.”


Benban Solar Park in Aswan is the largest solar energy project in the world and is expected to generate up to 1,600 megawatts of energy upon completion.  In April, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the OPEC Fund for International Development, the African Development Bank, the Green Climate Fund, and the Arab Bank signed a financing package worth $114 million with ACWA Power to build the largest private solar energy plant in Egypt.


“Luxor is our first Global Observance in the region, and I believe that this year’s theme of Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience is directly related to Luxor. Luxor is home to the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and numerous other historical sites that are thousands of years old,” she continued. Yet, Luxor, as a city like any other city, also contributes to the Carbon emissions, she said.


However, she warned that  if cities continue to perform using the same practices, climate change will destroy the viability of these cities including a very precious city like Luxor. 


“This is why we must come together immediately and work towards zero emission cities, and towards achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.  Luxor is not alone, 1.6 billion people in 970 cities stand to be affected by extreme heat, and climate change has other consequences including food insecurity, sea level rise, and increase poverty. We are at an inflection point in history, and we need to understand we are now dealing with a climate crisis,” she said.


Sharif called upon the Egyptian government for setting into motion many programs and projects that can help us address climate change. 


“Egypt is very important, it is a very strong and large player, and change in Egypt will resonate globally,” she said.


“It is time to look closely at the Egyptian cities, because globally over 70 percent of emissions come from urban areas. As the population of Egypt expands and more and more people move into cities, the expansion of these cities must take place in a compact way that is focused on sustainability,” she added.


“it is very important to rethink the way we design, manage, and plan our cities, to enable them to perform in a way that contributes to meet the target of carbon free world.  


“With 23 percent of global emissions come from transport, I believe Egypt is in many ways on the right track. It is building an electric railway, expanding existing metro, and rolling out more efficient modes of mass transits -which UN-Habitat is proud to be one of the partners - such as the Bus Rapid Transit as well as non-motorized modes of transits (NMT) such as bike sharing,” she said.


“Cities all over the world must look at the budgets with a climate lens, what will the impact of megaprojects be on our climate emergency, and can we build back better?,” she added.


“I believe we should look back at how the old Egyptians built this city and learn from them. Like ancient cities worldwide, the urban fabric was dense, it was mixed use, compact, and all trips were made by foot and NMT modes. Egypt is on an ambitious road for economic development, and in the coming years I hope to see sustainable cities at the heart of that,” Sharif said.



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