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And the Band Played On…Following COP22 – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
December 13, 2016

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

While the election of Donald Trump certainly created a stir at COP22 as participants speculated on America’s future policies on the environment, no hesitation marked Morocco’s commitments. King Mohammed VI received a great deal of praise for literally “walking the walk,” as a gracious host and, more importantly, because of Morocco’s long-term strategies to manage its energy and environmental policies, for the kingdom, the region, and Africa.

In addition to accolades from the US representative and African leaders taking part in a special session focusing on the continent, Morocco’s received recognition for its accomplishments and goals from Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency Adnan Amin in a commentary for the Huffington Post.

He mentioned that “In 2007, less than 10 per cent of the country’s electricity was powered by renewables. Yet even while energy demand has increased, that figure has risen dramatically. In 2015, following years of innovation and investment, renewables accounted for more than 30 per cent of installed power capacity.”

He then went on to detail the growth of the solar and wind projects in Morocco and how its early investments have greatly reduced the costs of deploying facilities and energy production. Amin wrote that “Morocco is now well positioned to take advantage of possible cost reductions for CSP of up to 43 per cent by 2025.”

He noted that “Wind power offers another success story. By 2014, wind power made up 5 per cent of the total power supply, and that figure is expected to rise to 14 per cent by 2020.” This is more than a production capacity, under a newly awarded contract, energy production from large-scale wind energy projects is now significantly cheaper than coal, which currently supplies most energy in the country.

As importantly, Amin pointed out that, thanks to support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other international donors, “the country has also spurred small-scale rural electrification with decentralized renewable energy. Thanks to a concerted national electrification initiative, tens of thousands of remote villages are now powered by domestic sources including small solar, hydro and wind. This initiative has resulted in an electrification rate which is now over 98 per cent.”

Morocco Urges Africa to Speak with One Voice

Morocco has achieved these results both to meet their own needs and to share their experiences with other African countries. In the side session for African leaders, the participants adopted a unified partnership for energy policy. The joint declaration demonstrates their intention to “pool their resources and speak in one single voice to tackle climate change.” According to the UN, 36 of the 50 countries that will be most affected by climate change are in Africa.

Another challenge discussed by the African leaders is the need to secure international funding to support climate change projects. “Currently Africa only attracts around five percent of climate funding. By 2020 it’s meant to be able to dip into the 100-billion-dollar (90-billion-euro) green fund – on condition it has valid projects up and running that prove it’s making the shift to clean energy.”

Once again, Morocco stepped up and announced its contribution of $100 million to the World Bank’s green fund to support environmental projects in Africa. This did not go unnoticed by the African leaders, “We welcome the kind of offers that he [King Mohamed VI] has provided that Africa should come and speak with one voice to ensure that we reverse this great challenge which is affecting us,” Sierra Leone’s president told officials during their three-hour plenary session.

In addition, the king established a million-dollar award, The International Award for Climate and the Environment, to be awarded biannually at each COP meeting for “particularly innovative and high-impact action for change.” Throughout the meetings and in its final declaration, countries participating in COP demonstrated a serious determination to take long-term and consequential actions to combat climate change.

Partnerships Announced to Continue COP Agenda

The UN issued a summary of the key action agreements adopted at the summit, to be implemented through a number of public-private and NGO partnerships. The importance of these agreements cannot be understated, as they are the action plans that will implement goals defined in COP21, and provide metrics for determining the results of efforts to restrain the rise in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C.

As the UN describes it, “Governments, international organizations, cooperative initiatives and non-government stakeholders clearly demonstrated how their commitments to addressing climate change are maturing into concrete actions; including:

  • Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action
  • Marrakech Investment Committee for Adaptation (MICA) Fund
  • Initiative for Renewable Island Energy
  • African Capital Markets
  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF)
  • European External Investment Plan (EEIP)”

It is in this context of broad-scale partnerships, funded by governments and multilateral agencies, that the World Bank-Moroccan initiative for Africa carries great promise. As the announcement noted, “GGIF for Africa is first true green economy fund ever established as it stands out among other funds through its utter orientation towards the emergence of efficient and environment-friendly infrastructure projects motivated by reducing carbon emission.”

While some skeptics may claim that COP22 is over and progress will be slow, it is clear from Morocco’s agenda that the music continues as the movement towards a more stable global environment gathers momentum.

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