Morocco is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, but unlike other nations, it long ago accepted the challenge and developed a range of tactics to counteract the punitive impact.
The result is role model status, not just in the Middle East and North Africa region, but worldwide, analysts say.
Climate change in Morocco is expected to have a significant impact. The main consequences will be felt in the agricultural system and fisheries, which employ half of the population and account for 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Also, with 60 percent of the population and most of the industry on the coast, sea level rise is a significant threat to major economic forces.
“The kingdom’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, fisheries and tourism – all sectors affected by climate change,” Yasmina Abouzzohour, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Middle East Initiative, told Al Jazeera.
“Positioning itself as a leader in tackling climate change strengthens the kingdom’s image internationally.”
As a result, Rabat turned the crisis into an opportunity and became one of the pioneers in climate policy, not just in the region but worldwide. Ambitious plans were put in place years ago to secure Morocco’s future.
The government has implemented several national strategies to improve water management, strengthen the use of non-conventional water resources and modernize irrigation systems. It also invested heavily in building dams to move water from northern to arid southern regions.
A major effort has been made to restore forests, including repopulating more than 130,000 hectares (320,000 hectares), Abouzzohour said.
By 2030, Morocco plans to generate 52 percent of its electricity from renewable energy – 20 percent from solar energy, 20 percent wind and 12 percent hydropower.
The North African nation has lifted all subsidies for diesel, petrol and heating oil, and is making efforts to focus on sustainable aquifer and sea practices.
“According to available data, Morocco can reach its target of generating 52 percent of its energy from renewable energy by 2024, which means six years before the original target deadline,” Abouzzohour said.
Morocco is the only Arab state that has rated the Climate Action Tracker to meet the 1.5 ° C warming target.
“Morocco is making great strides through its renewable energy projects,” Fatima Driouech, associate professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told Al Jazeera.
The UN summit on climate change in Glasgow, COP26, began on 31 October with two weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations on the agenda, with officials from nearly 200 nations present to discuss how to combat global warming.
The global climate crisis is very real and action must be taken immediately, scientists say.
“The latest IPCC report shows that recent climate change is widespread, rapid and increasing, and that its extent and extent have been unprecedented for thousands of years. “It confirms with great confidence that there is an almost linear relationship between cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the global warming they cause,” said Driouech.
“Many changes intensify directly with global warming, so every increase in global warming matters. With each additional increase in global warming, there will be further changes in extremes… Unless there is an immediate, rapid and large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the limitation of warming to 1.5 ° C and even 2 ° C will be out of reach. ”
The international community has slowly but steadily adapted to the challenge, although still not sufficiently, Driouech noted.
More intense changes
Although all world regions are affected by climate change, the challenge for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is particularly important.
“The MENA region is expected to experience warmer conditions than today, and the changes will be more intense under the high emission scenarios than low,” Driouech said.
“Agricultural and ecological droughts are expected to increase in the MENA region, as well as throughout the Mediterranean and other parts of Europe.”
The immediate consequence of this is enormous human migration movement in the direction of the higher lying areas as the Earth’s population grows.
This can have far-reaching consequences, especially in regions that are already politically unstable, analysts say.