On World Environment Day, Morocco Leads the Way

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Morocco has once again shown the world its unequivocal commitment to environmental stewardship. On Tuesday, Morocco’s Environment Minister promised that the Kingdom will cut down on its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 13 percent by 2030. That’s another huge step for the North African nation, which was recently ranked in the top 10 of the 2015 Climate Performance Index. The Climate Index praised Morocco’s “upward trend” in its energy, solar, and wind development initiatives. Morocco hopes to generate one fifth of the country’s electricity from solar power by 2020 and 42 percent of its energy from wind by the same year.

Morocco’s latest effort to protect the environment and natural resources comes just before the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to be held in Paris in December. The conference aims to convince the UNFCCC’s 195 member nations to endorse a long-term, post-2020 agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC’s ultimate goal is to implement programs that will prevent the earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, a number that experts identify as the point of irreversibility in global climate change.

But Morocco has no intention of waiting six months before taking action on environmental reform. For starters, it’s promoting good stewardship at the regional level. During his visit to Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday (the third leg of a four-country tour of Africa), Morocco’s King Mohammed VI attended a ceremony with Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara unveiling plans—to be financed by Moroccan Attijariwafa Bank and its Ivoirian subsidiary—for the rehabilitation of Cocody Bay. The plan provides for a new anti-flood system, new dams, bridges, roads, port facilities and other elements to reverse years of pollution and revive the Bay’s economic potential.

On a more global scale, Morocco is currently participating in ministerial talks about the UN climate agreement in Bonn and even making advance preparations to host the 22nd UNFCCC meeting in 2016. It is also working on raising the $10 billion needed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Given this current, ongoing progress, Morocco’s Environmental Minister is extremely optimistic about Morocco’s ability to follow through on its promises. With the help of $35 billion in foreign aid, Morocco may be able to more than double its 13 percent goal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 32 percent by 2030.

Of course, nothing is ever certain when it comes to securing an international agreement about environmental preservation. There are a lot of moving parts and every nation has a different idea about the best way to bring about meaningful, lasting change. A large part of the UNFCCC’s efforts are also contingent on wealthy countries’ willingness to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to support global climate reform. Still, it’s encouraging that developing countries like Morocco are so proactive about preserving natural resources.

Katherine Kinnaird

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