Climate concerns for the Maghreb

Climate concerns for the Maghreb
Kieran Baker

One of the most pressing issues of our time is how the world will adapt to the changing climate conditions we see around us. Global warming means literally that- the planet is heating up and none more so than in the Maghreb region.  

The impact of climate change is severe and varies of course from one area to another but according to researchers the Mediterranean basin will be one of the worst affected areas in the world. Already we are seeing an increase in temperatures at twice the global rate across most of the region, particularly in Algeria & Tunisia. 

As a result, heat waves will become more frequent and intense; last year wildfires ravaged forest and areas of Algeria’s tree-rich region, and dozens perished. Also, in Tunisia temperatures reached almost 50 degrees Celsius last July, leading to power outages due to a spike in demand for electricity. In Morocco it is the threat of drought and the impact on vegetation and crop yields that concerns environmentalists and farmers the most. 

The question is what can we do about it?

According to Karim Elgendy, an urban sustainability and climate consultant, speaking recently to FairPlanet “there is very little climate adaptation work going on in the Maghreb region… some in Morocco and Tunisia, relating to agriculture and combatting desertification. But most funding goes to climate mitigation, such as renewables, rather than to adaptation."

FairPlanet goes on to say “the Maghreb nation that has made the greatest strides in energy transition and climate adaptation is by far Morocco, which has pledged to reduce its emissions by over 40 per cent by 2030 with international assistance. The North African state has also worked to improve its infrastructure to detect extreme climate events.” 

The Moroccan government has pushed the issue of renewable energy since the early 2000s and is on course to generating almost 50 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources, the most notable being the Ouarzazate solar park, one of the world's largest. 

Again, according to FairPlanet: “Algeria has in turn joined international efforts to mitigate climate change and its effects and established a national agency for climate change back in 2005. It has also pledged to slash emissions by 22 per cent with the condition of receiving support and has adopted a national climate strategy that includes short-term plans up to 2025 and longer-term ones up to 2035.” However, analysts say Algeria has been slow to roll out such plans if indeed adopt them at all.  

The country in the worst position in the region, however, is Libya, which following decades of chaos with recurrent cycles of violence and conflict since 2011 is understandably struggling with a coherent strategy when it comes to climate change. The main emphasis has been focused on areas such as water management and food security.

What we are sure of is that climate change transcends all boundaries and borders, and the region as a whole would benefit from a unified approach- easier, of course, said than done. 

Kieran Baker is an Emmy award winning journalist who has started up various networks including Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg TV Africa and TRT World. 




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