Morocco, World Governments Seek Climate Emergency Solutions at COP25

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez (R) greets Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani upon his arrival for the opening ceremony of the COP25 Climate Summit in Madrid, 02 December 2019. EPA-EFE/CHEMA MOYA

Rabat – COP25 has officially kicked off in Madrid, with Morocco joining more than 190 countries in the Spanish capital amid a growing sense of urgency and alarm over the human impact on the climate.

In addition to government representatives, some 29,000 attendees are expected to take part in the two-week event. In a climate of rising alarm and fear as scientists make bleak predictions about the implications of human-induced climate change, the event seeks to address global and multilateral platforms to face the global climate crisis.

While there is scant global action and no binding multilateral treaties to tackle the “global climate emergency,” there is robust, even overwhelming agreement in the scientific community that human impact on climate has been enormous in recent years and that “we may have crossed tipping points.”

Last month, Oxford Dictionaries declared “climate emergency” the word of the year, reflecting the prominence of the global climate crisis in discussions about the future of the planet.

“In 2018, climate did not feature in the top words typically used to modify emergency, instead the top types of emergencies people wrote about were health, hospital, and family emergencies,” said the selection committee of the Oxford Dictionaries. “But with climate emergency, we see something new, an extension of emergency to the global level.”

Morocco and sustainability

Since hosting the COP22 meeting in Marrakech in 2016, Morocco has emerged as one of the few countries making “commendable” steps in adopting environmentally friendly policies.

On the African continent, the North African country has repeatedly cast itself as a leader on sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.

Ahead of the COP25 meeting, a coalition of 35 African countries met at Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, north of Marrakech, to discuss “smart climate” and sustainable agriculture. Led by Morocco, the coalition spoke of its efforts as part of the broader scheme to tackle the global climate emergency.

Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, energy and mining minister Aziz Rabbah, Delegate Minister for Moroccans Residing Abroad Nezha El Ouafi, and Morocco’s Ambassador to Spain Karima Benyaich are representing Morocco at a COP25 summit the UN Secretary-General says should serve as a platform to devise a global response to a global issue.

Doubts remain

Speaking ahead of the Madrid meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the need to make national governments more committed to climate-friendly policies.

“In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments—particularly from the main emitters—to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a pace consistent to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Guterres. “We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions.”

Meanwhile, for all the considerable sustainability-friendly efforts from a tiny number of governments, including Morocco, the two-week Madrid summit comes as doubts continue about the concrete significance of big political events and on-paper commitments from world governments.

For critics and climate activists, it is not enough to organize huge conferences in “chic venues” to discuss ways of mitigating the global crisis or increasing world governments’ commitment to cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“Striking is not a choice we relish; we do it because we see no other options. We have watched a string of United Nations climate conferences unfold,” read a recent joint article by climate activists, including Sweden’s Greta Thunberg.

“Countless negotiations have produced much-hyped but ultimately empty commitments from the world’s governments—the same governments that allow fossil-fuel companies to drill for ever-more oil and gas, and burn away our futures for their profit.

“Politicians and fossil-fuel companies have known about climate change for decades. And yet the politicians let the profiteers continue to exploit our planet’s resources and destroy its ecosystems in a quest for quick cash that threatens our very existence.”