By Abdel Razek Al Shuwekhi
A commission composed of six ministries will be finalising criteria for the use of coal to generate electricity for the factories by the end of May.
The commission includes representatives from the ministries of environment, industry, transport, petroleum, electricity, and finance.
A senior official at the Ministry of Tourism said the ministry would “contribute, though it is not a member of the commission, despite [the fact] that its sector is highly affected by the use of coal.”
In March, the Egyptian cabinet approved the use of coal in generating electricity for cement plants despite opposition from Minister of Environment Laila Iskander.
Iskander confirmed to the Daily News Egypt that “coal will not be used unless it conforms to environmental standards.”
Egypt suffers from an energy imbalance, with fossil fuels accounting for 89% and new and renewable energy accounting for only 11%. This has caused a lack of availability of gas for the generation of electricity for both the Ministry of Electricity and factories.
Tourism accounts for 11.3% of Egypt’s total GDP and employs 3.8 million Egyptians.
The tourism official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the hotels located in southern Sinai, along the Red Sea coast, and in Ain Sokhna will be most affected by coal generated electricity for cement plants.
“We reject the use of Adabiya Port in Sokhna for receiving coal as it would destroy the tourist resorts in the region which contain approximately 20,000 hotel rooms,” he said.”The state must force plants to import solid coal, rather than ground coal. There are no railways to transport it, not to mention it must be exposed when transported so as to ensure it does not ignite.”
The official warned that Egypt’s classification as a carbon country will negatively affect tourism.
Mohamed Bahi, Chairman of the Tax Committee of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said: “The Federation of Egyptian Industries is awaiting the Ministry of Environment’s announcement of coal use criteria for power generation. It will determine carbon tax levels on factories that use coal… a carbon tax on coal use is not motivated by raising revenue, but rather to improve the health of citizens.”
Bahi said the Ministry of Environment must issue its standards before enforcing taxation.