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Archive for February, 2013

Coming home from COP18

Written by Merna Ghaly – National Youth Climate Ambassador


I come home from COP18 with utter disappointment, nothing achieved, nothing done.

A Doha fail if I might say, a text so ridiculous, might have been better off with no text at all. Islands endangered,millions threatened and lives at stake. USA, European Union, Russia, Canada and New Zealand have failed these negotiations, the Doha fail is on them. They have truly failed millions.

The text lacked ambition, science calls for 1.5° C while the text aims for 2°C, while in reality we’re heading towards 4°C. None of the high emitters put in realistic Carbon emission targets; some even put targets so ridiculous they could have simply not say anything at all (need I mention Australia’s 0.5% emission reduction target?). When it comes to finance, the Green Climate Fund is as empty as the bank account of a college student, filled with promises of money to come sometime in the distant future and
receipts of money already spent. Yet the Doha negotiations are being celebrated as a success by many,which still does not make any sense to me.

I have seen people cry because of the decisions made in Doha, I have seen people unsure if they would have a future, I have seen utter frustration, I have seen friends losing hope and that is not okay. I am not okay with that, in fact I am very angry, climate change has become personal now, I have to admit before COP I had never felt the impacts of climate change, but now I have seen firsthand what climate change can do, I now have to worry whether I will be seeing some of my friends again or not or whether they will be climate refugees or not.

I am comforted by one thought though, that I am not the only one, an entire generation has been angered and I can promise that the fight will be stronger, we will push harder, we will keep on going until we change climate change and we will not give up on our red lines. Political leaders might have lost the will, they might have lost their humanity, but we haven’t. We never will. We will change this world whether they chose to be part of the change or not. In fact, we already have. We have overthrown dictators, we have changed regimes, we have broken the barriers of fear, we have spoken out and we will continue to do so.


You can watch Merna’s passionate defense for the climate cause during the “100 million youth in MENA” side event here and her speech on behalf of the Coalition of Youth NGOs (YOUNGO) here


Climate change projections in Denmark

When I first started delving into predictions about the climate change in Denmark I thought that there might be more positives for Denmark than negatives from it namely because of the higher temperatures. My simple logic was: Higher temperatures => Less rain => Super awesome summer. However it seems that this would not be the case (it never is). Here are some of the projections for the next 87 years.

Higher sea levels

A general rise in sea level of 0.15–0.75 m is anticipated on the west coast and in Danish coastal waters. In extreme storm surge situations an increase in the maximum water level is expected of between 0.45–1.05 m on the west coast under the A2 scenario.  In the Nordic countries, there will be marked regional differences in the effects of the rising sea level. The main reason for this is that the land is rising in some places, but is stable or sinking in others. The effects of the rising sea level will also depend on topography. Where the land is flat, an increase in sea level will affect a greater area than where the land rises steeply from the sea. More frequent flood tides and increased coastal erosion are other possible effects of climate change.

A rise in sea level will also lead to an increase in coastal erosion. Climate change could also change ocean currents so that new areas will become more vulnerable to erosion. Coastal erosion is a natural process in which land masses are worn down by waves and wind. How vulnerable a coastal area is to erosion depends on its topographical and geomorphological characteristics. A relatively steep coastline consisting of hard rock cliffs will be at little risk compared to a low lying area of loose sediment. One of the vulnerable areas is the coast of Denmark, which consists of sand and loose material. On the west coast of Jutland, the medieval Mårup Church had to be taken down in 2008 to save it from being carried out to sea. The church was then only nine metres from the cliff down to the sea, while in 1793 it had been about 500 metres away from the coastline. Measurements indicate that the speed of erosion is increasing, although the reasons for this are not fully understood.


More extreme weather

Calculations with climate models show that increased greenhouse effects result in changes in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather conditions. DMI’s calculations show, for example, more and longer-lasting heat waves and increased wind strength during the strongest storms. It is noteworthy that all three scenarios result in about the same extreme downpours, which are expected to be about 20% stronger than today.

With respect to new construction or renovation of dikes, coastal protection or harbour installations, it is important to consider how many years’ climate change should be included in the basic design, since these installations have a lifetime of 50 –100 years, and the climate is expected to change dramatically in that period. It is also important to consider whether it is possible to accept the reduced safety of dikes and other high water protection resulting from climate changes or indeed whether to give up dikes or coastal protection altogether and return to a more natural coastline with more frequent flooding and natural erosion. No matter which solution is chosen, any emergency or storm surge measures should be adapted to existing conditions. It is important that the chosen lifetime of the installation be announced and the rationale for it. Aside from beach nourishment and channel dredging, other adaptation measures will require socio-economic analysis of the degree to which the coastal area must be adapted to future climate change and how such adaptation can be effected.

What do you think about this information? Which solution do you think is better – dikes and high water protection or more natural coastline? Or may be a third option?

“Auto-Peace” to the rescue!

Written by Omar Rabie – DEMENA Innovation Cup Winner

Four years ago I read an article about a critical issue we face in Egypt:  We have reached over 2.5 million cars just inside Cairo, in a city with roads designed to accommodate just 500,000 cars! The issues of resulting air pollution, traffic jams, wasted time, and inefficiency in all aspects of life have always concerned me, but I never knew where or how to start..

Until a couple of months ago I received an invitation from a friend of mine to apply for the DEMENA Innovation Cup, held in partnership with ICE Cairo. I applied and on the first day of the camp I was just amazed, I spent what I could call 3 days of changing perceptions, opening up my mind to whole new things, meeting diverse people, and attending workshops. Everything was just amazing; the camp was focused on overcoming challenges in three main sectors: environment, agriculture and transportation. And the innovation begun!

Brainstorming on innovative solutions to the top three challenges in Egypt was no easy task. Only when Innovation Cup mentor Jay Cousins surprised us with his magic question did my group and I start pitching ideas. “What do you hate the most?”, he asked us, “and make it more positive”. The answer was simply “wasting time in commutes”. And that was the spark for a Double-Decker bus idea. With this bus you can make use of your time efficiently, enjoy the travel with a good book or a newspaper from the small library, while having your coffee, listening to music, sitting in a very comfy seat, not to mention the option to charge your phone using a solar cell panel.

Our initiative is about changing a community perspective towards public transportation. Hence, instead of increasing the roads and tunnels, we can replace 60 private cars with only one Double Decker “Auto-Peace”. Not only will this solve the traffic jam and reduce wasted time, but also decrease carbon dioxide emissions of private cars-cutting down over 9480 gm/km of carbon dioxide. We’re also looking to cut expenditures, as with this bus one can spend just $1 on the bus ticket instead of spending an average of $3/day on fuel for cars regardless of the operational cost, so with this project will be increasing the air quality, finding a cost efficient solution, affecting the community socially, economically and environmentally

Our first step will be building a prototype for the bus. Eventually, this will lead us to apply all these features on the double-decker bus. Later on spreading it all over Egypt’s cities, increasing people efficiency, reaching a smooth traffic, and fresh air

Reviving agriculture, 10,000 gardens at a time!

Written by Amena Adel – International Youth Climate Ambassador


In late January 2013, Nawaya, DEMENA and 350 Cairo came together to restore the culture of agriculture in Egypt. With the river Nile streaming through its land, Egypt has been an agricultural land for centuries. Urbanization has taken a toll on the land, between building on agricultural land and farmers deserting their lands, Egypt has not only lost a huge part of its culture, but has also suffered from food insufficiency and economic crises.

Nawaya has been working on sustainable agriculture for a long time in Egypt and is now a part of the 10,000 gardens in Africa. The 10,000 gardens in Africa project is a Slow Food initiative which aims to revive the culture of agriculture as well as encourage food dependency and revitalizing the economy of small communities. Gardens have already started in schools around Africa, and it’s high time they start in Egypt.

Agriculture enthusiasts join Nawaya’s staff in an introduction to sustainable agriculture in Fagnoon. On the first day they learned about permaculture, its ethics and values and different techniques of garden design. They also practically experimented with various techniques like the 18-day compost, nurseries, herbal spirals and growing beds around the field. And on the second day, they experimented with the urban techniques of agriculture. They started out with making home composting like bucket composting, also using old plastic bottles for growing and bag gardening. Participants are excited about taking their knowledge and spreading them in schools around Egypt, and hopefully revive the long-lost culture of growing our own food.

Global Atlas for solar and wind + Water Risk Atlas

This week I came across two really useful online tools. The one is about getting information for the renewable energies potential on worldwide scale. The second one presents an overall picture of water risk around the world.


The open access ‘Global Atlas for Solar and Wind’ is launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The project aims to help users identify areas of interest for future investment by enabling them to visualise data on wind and solar resources, and then overlay additional information on such things as roads and protected areas. This software tool will allow users to calculate the amount of power that can be generated from a renewable energy resource and so its economic potential.


The second free online tool is called Aqueduct, which layers a zoomable map with 12 different indicators that could contribute to water risk, including flood occurrence, drought severity, threatened wildlife and media attention.This tool could be useful for researches in this sphere, companies looking to reduce water risk in their supply chains and for half of the world’s population that would be living under conditions of ‘water stress’ by 2030.


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