Why Marrakech is perfect for the UN’s COP22?
The world is gathering in Marrakech for the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to assess the progress in dealing with climate change and focus on action items to achieve the priorities of The Paris Agreement. Meetings are ongoing since November 7th and will go until the 18th.
Morocco is a perfect place for this conference because when it comes to climate change they’ve been powering forward.
In 2011 the Moroccan government added to their constitution the right to a healthy environment and sustainable development, which makes the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals something familiar.
Also, the Northern African country was ranked the world sixth best country in the 2016 Climate Change Performance Index. It is the best ranked non-European country and the only one among the top-20.
Morocco is also home to the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station, better known as Noor 1. It is a solar power plant in the Sahara that is so big that it can be seen from space. The country has plans for a second and third section which will likely become the largest solar plant in the world and provide energy for at least a million people with a 580 megawatt capacity.
According to Quartz this is part of a push to generate 52% of its energy from renewables by 2030. In December 2014 turbines began spinning at Tarfaya, which is the largest wind farm in Africa. It has the capacity to provide energy for around 1.1 million people.
Morocco’s renewable energy drive came from its dependence of energy imports from abroad, which made it unsustainable, and according to the World Bank in 2013 it mounted up to 90%. So the country shifted towards a green growth plan financed by the Development Policy Loans from the World Bank.
Its vision of inclusive green growth “is based on better management of existing natural resources to generate more jobs, value and wellbeing from existing assets,” writes a feature story from the IBRD news section.
"The right to sustainable development does not mean protecting the environment at the expense of the economy. It means being wise enough to find a balance between economic development, social mobility, and the protection of resources – so that there are enough resources to last our children and our grand-children," stated Dr. Hakima El-Haite, Minister Delegate in Charge of Environment for Morocco.
The government has helped infrastructure investment by phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, boosted regulation in favor of green energy, and encouraging private sector investment in renewables. The funds saved from these subsidies have been put into social welfare schemes, especially in health and education, says the World Bank.