by Mahmoud Fouly, Wu Danni
CAIRO, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- There have been a number of positive environmental developments in Egypt recently and the country is moving fast toward renewable energy, said UN Under-Secretary-General and the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Erik Solheim.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua here on Thursday, he commended the Egyptian government's efforts to expand the use of solar energy and measures to save electric energy boosting the production of power saving lamps.
"Egypt is moving fast into the area of renewable energy, and its cut of fuel subsidies makes it easy to move in this direction. The country produced a huge amount of LED lamps, some of them are in cooperation with Chinese companies, which saves a lot of energy and reduces emissions," the UNEP chief explained.
Egypt is currently working on a huge solar energy project in the southern province of Aswan and a wind power plant in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada, expecting the new, renewable sources of energy to contribute to 20 percent of the country's power generation by 2022.
"Egypt is eager to work towards less plastic and air pollution," Solheim said, noting that the Egyptian leadership under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is aware of the importance of environment for the future of Egypt.
"We see a lot of positive things happening in Egypt in the field of ecology and our role is to support them," he added.
Solheim attended on Thursday an Arab ministerial meeting on environment at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital city, where he stressed the UN's keenness on cooperating with Arab states in the field of environment and the preservation of the ecological system.
"Examples of environmental problems facing the Arab world are waste and plastic pollution. We really want all countries to get rid of plastic waste and help them establishing waste management systems," Solheim told Xinhua.
He pointed out that most Arab countries live in hot weather, highlighting the significance of using more environment friendly air-conditioning and clean cooling.
The UNEP chief, also a former Norwegian environment minister, said that the UN body is working with the Palestinians and the Israelis to prepare an assessment report on the environmental problems in the Palestinian occupied territories.
"They will now go ahead with that for we agreed with both sides on the conditions for making such an assessment," said Solheim, hoping the report will contribute to the improvement of the political and ecological situations in the Palestinian territories.
Solheim said that the Arab world can cooperate with China in the fields of environment improvement and the development of ecological systems, noting that China is demonstrating a leading experience in this regard.
He hailed the engagement and determination of China's leadership under President Xi Jinping to improve environment through several ecological measures as well as the launch of campaigns including ecological conservation, beautiful China and lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.
"China's technology helped it become an ecological renewal model through its use of environment friendly electric vehicles, solar energy and clean cooling, and the Arab countries can learn from China in these areas," said the UN under-secretary-general.
A large Chinese carmaker, DARSHAL, has recently participated in an auto exhibition in Cairo and introduced electric vehicles to the Egyptian market. The automaker will invest 53 million U.S. dollars for the electric car program in Egypt.