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One year ago, we commented that the Mediterranean had a key role to play in the transition from Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21) to COP22. With COP22 now behind us, we can firmly state that the baton was passed successfully from France to Morocco, from North to South just across the Mediterranean, to make COP22 a success comparable to COP21.
COP22 started under a very good omen, with the entry into force of the Paris agreement just before the start of the conference and well ahead of schedule. And the Mediterranean was present everywhere during COP22, proud to be part of the success story.
Venue. Marrakech did a magnificent job at hosting COP22, making it a joyful climate festival. Morocco had the opportunity to showcase its role as climate leader, renewable energy pioneer, politically stable country, innovator in climate finance, and a bridgehead to Africa.
The light and the sun (noor). The sun was present every day - something you cannot be sure of everywhere in the world- and the COP22 participants were greeted by spectacular sunsets every evening when they were leaving the COP22 site, surrounded by the music of the indigenous Moroccan Tamazight.
Noor, the Arabic word for light and sun, was also celebrated through the showcasing of the new largest-in-the-world concentrated solar power plant in Ouarzazate, about 200 km from Marrakech, that many high level delegations visited during COP22.
Strong Mediterranean presence. The Mediterranean was clearly in the spotlight during COP22.The IPCC has confirmed that the Mediterranean region is one of the areas most impacted by global warming, as temperatures are expected to rise, rainfall to drop by 60% by 2100 and Mediterranean sea level to rise by 0.4-0.5 meters. “But the Mediterranean region is in a position to turn the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures into levers for the achievement of inclusive, successful sustainable development,” stated H.M. King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan presidency of the COP intends to focus on the actual implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) - a key element of the Paris agreement, the mobilisation of funds, the strengthening of adaptation measures and technology development/transfer.
Roadmap for renewable electricity exchanges between Morocco and Europe. One year ago, in a blog on this same website, we had indicated that an agreement for electricity trade between the South and the North of the Mediterranean would be a strong symbol of the power of partnership and of a successful transition from COP21 to COP22. And a first step to make it happen took place in Marrakech.
Morocco and four European countries (Germany, Spain, France and Portugal ) signed, in the presence of the European Commissioner on energy and climate and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretary General, a joint agreement to establish a roadmap for exchanging electricity from renewable sources between Morocco and Europe. The signatories will support the sustainable energy trade roadmap to review economic, legal, regulatory and technical issues relating to the energy exchange, particularly looking at potential grid bottlenecks. While Morocco has strong renewable resources, exchange of energy between the continents could provide mutually-beneficial investment opportunities for all the parties involved as well as generating a significant number of jobs. Electricity market integration between the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Europe could help relieve grid congestion and renewable energy curtailment. The Moroccan and the European Union electricity grid are already interconnected through Spain and this is expected to be strengthened further through a new interconnection with Portugal.
Moreover an interconnection between Tunisia and Italy is in the planning stage to interconnect the two shores in the middle of the Mediterranean, therefore closing the loop between the Maghreb and Europe. In essence, this agreement opens the way for Morocco’s brilliant sunshine to be exported to European green energy markets. That would open huge investment opportunities in Morocco, with considerable creation of much-needed jobs.
As the EU Winter energy/climate package was issued just after COP22 and the UfM held its energy ministerial meeting in Rome on December 1, the time is right to step-up work on the creation of an integrated Mediterranean energy market. 2017 will be the year of the Mediterranean energy union.
Happy New Year!