Morocco is further advancing its climate policies and may as one of the few developing countries be able to curb its emissions by 2030. Expansion of renewables is continuing as planned, but the construction of new coal fired power plants may lock the country into higher emissions. New policies planned may lead to levelling emissions, but impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unclear. Inconsistent historical data reporting also adds uncertainty to both historical and current policy projections. However, emissions trends indicate that Morocco is likely to achieve its climate pledge, which the CAT rates as “1.5°C Paris Agreement Compatible.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has not spared Morocco, but the government’s early announcement of a state of sanitary emergency, coupled with lockdown measures, has meant cases have remained relatively low. As with the rest of the world, emissions will have likely decreased due to the economic standstill brought about by the crisis, notably due to the reduction in tourism and transport activity. We expect GHG emissions in 2020 to be 5 to 10% lower than in 2019.
Despite the coal-dominated power sector, Morocco’s Paris Agreement target is still within the range of what is considered to be a “1.5°C compatible” fair share of global effort under the CAT’s equity rating. This means that Morocco’s unconditional Paris Agreement climate commitment in 2030, although allows the country’s total emissions to increase, is consistent with holding warming well below 2°C, and limiting warming to 1.5°C, based on its historical responsibility and its capability.
In 2019, Morocco issued its 2030 National Climate Plan. The strategy confirms the climate objective set under Morocco’s Paris Agreement pledge and lays out measures to enhance climate governance, notably by creating a National Commission on Climate Change, by improving inter-sectoral coordination, and by involving non-governmental organisations in decision-making.
Morocco’s NDC submission includes detailed information on activities currently under implementation and planned measures to achieve its unconditional and conditional NDC targets. The CAT has assessed in detail the impact of mitigation actions currently under implementation for Morocco and find that Morocco meets its unconditional NDC targets under current policies mainly due to the ambitious capacity expansion of renewable energy. Morocco could also reach its conditional NDC target by 2030, depending on the impact of COVID-19 and the realization of additional measures proposed in the BUR. With additional support Morocco could be one of the few developing countries to curb its emissions.
It is still unclear at this stage to what extent and how the COVID-19 crisis will affect Morocco’s emissions in the long run, as its economic rescue and recovery measures will shape future emissions. But with currently implemented policies and the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, we expect Morocco’s GHG emissions to be 80-120 MtCO2e in 2030 excluding LULUCF (approximately 20-90% above 2005 levels and 190-350% above 1990 levels). The range of emissions is lower than the unconditional NDC pledge and within the range of the conditional pledge.
In December 2018, Morocco commissioned a 1.4 GW coal-fired power plant, adding to an already high consumption of coal-based electricity. In 2017, coal generated over half of Morocco’s total electricity. Morocco is also in the process of building yet another coal power plant: the 1.3 GW plant is expected to be operational in 2023–2024. In early 2020, the Moroccan Electricity and Water Utility Company (ONEE) also agreed to extend its power purchase agreement from a 2 GW coal power plant from 2027 to 2044.
This goes against the developments needed to stay below the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement: by 2040 coal-based electricity needs to be phased out globally, and much earlier for many regions. For the Middle East and Africa region, coal-based electricity would need to be reduced by 80% in 2030 (compared to 2010) and phased out by 2034. While Morocco’s climate pledge and current policy projections are within the range of what is considered to be a fair share of global effort, they are not consistent with the need to phase out coal-fired power plants under the Paris Agreement.
At the same time, there has also been an important renewable energy development in recent years. By 2030, Morocco aims to have 52% of renewable energy in its total installed electricity production capacity. In 2018, the share of renewable energy in installed capacity had already reached close to 34% and Morocco is on track to meet this objective.
By 2020, Morocco aims to have 2 GW of installed capacity of wind, solar and hydroelectric energy each. At the end of 2019, it had installed 1.2 GW of wind, 0.7 GW of solar and 1.8 GW of hydropower. We expect Morocco to reach the 2020 objectives for installed renewable energy capacity.
In June 2020, the governments of Morocco and Germany signed a ‘green hydrogen’ cooperation agreement. Two initial projects to develop and research renewable energy-based hydrogen were announced.