With the Conference Of Parties comes a change in the country that hosts it, or at least that is what I thought would happen.
I started off with asking local people, these three questions:
Do you think Marrakech has changed in the last year because of the COP22?
How do you think the COP will affect the people in Morocco?
Are there any new laws in Morrocco that came through in the last year?
“I don’t think a lot of people changed but I am sure at least children what you see now, I am sure that they have a new possibility in their mind. ”
This idea is huge, and I hope this triggers some youth and children to support the fight against climate change. Also, this event is so big that people will hear about it that might not even believe in climate change. Children will hear about it and hopefully it will help them in the choices that they make in the future. The young woman that said this was standing with me by her stall she makes blankets out of extra fabric. From her stall we could see a group of 15 students from the age of 11 to 25 making a small permaculture garden. As I walked out of the art space, the gate was filled with wondering eyes, of what is happening in there. I continued to question people from the Market, the area that I lived in and from conferences. Some had similar answers to my questions, some differed, but here is what I have Gathered in my first week in Marrakech.
What I have learned in my process:
July started off with a new law, the banning of plastic bags. Great, problem solved, Right? Well yes, it makes it illegal to sell plastic bags, but what can they use now to carry their groceries, especially for water foods like olives. The people that I have interviewed said that it will take time to adjust to this change. The Green Party of Morocco approximated that it will take at least a year for the society to get fully used to it. This problem is very closely related to an NGO that I know and also try to resolve the same problem.
My friends from Bye Bye Plastic Bag, look at the same problem with a different approach, instead from totally banning and cutting people off from plastic bags leaving them with either using more expensive alternatives or having to buy the plastic bags from a “black market”, they work, how they explained it from the bottom up. Introduce new bags, plant-based, cheap alternative bags or even how to make your own bags from old t-shirts. Holding workshops in communities and warming up to people. Then when the people are not as reliant on plastic bags, ban them.
Other things changed, like the taxi price went up, the city got cleaned and planted more trees on a few of the main roads. That seems to be normal, Marrakech, of course, wants to look good if diplomats and journalists come over from all around the world, every place would do that. The taxi driver sees the opportunity to make a bit more money, there is nothing wrong with that or it might not even be them, there is a possibility that even the whole company put out the word to bring up the price. However, a rumor has crossed my ear that the homeless people got cleaned out of the city two weeks before the COP. If it is only for the image of the city they could have taken this opportunity to help them. However, this has crossed only my ear and I am not sure if it is valid.
Moving away from the city and looking at the whole country, Morocco right now runs on 97% imported fossil fuel. The King Mohammed VI of Morocco wants to cut carbon emission by 32% by 2030. There is a Solar power station already set up called Noor 1. It is located on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Right now it can supply over a million people in Morocco and it generates up to 160 megawatts of electricity. This is only one project of three, the other two are already in planning. The next station will be built by 2018 and will be able to supply up to 580 Megawatts of power, Morocco wants to have 42% renewable energy by 2020. The plants that will supply this, will be so big that it is even visible from space. This is huge physically, but also it is a huge step forward in getting off fossil fuels. However, this solar plant that exists right now needs a tremendous amount of water to be able to work, the water is used to clean off the dust from the solar panels. To get the solar plants clean, Morocco is using a resource that it can just not effort. This has to be resolved and new methods would be needed rather sooner than later.
Marrakech has the resource to look even further into renewables. Of what I have learned people that live here are showing more interest in climate change. From greening up the environment that they live in to banning complete plastic bags. Hopefully the people in the near future start to use solar energy since there is so much sun in this city. I am sure that the COP22 had a good impact on this society, and I believe in the friendly people that I have met and that they will push for a greener future. Thank you very much for hosting us in Marrakech.
Written by Miro Sohel
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