Star pupil's performance casts doubt on green growth model

By Till Bruckner 06 July 2015

The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Combined Cycle Thermo-Solar Power Plant in Morocco. The country’s efforts to grow green have attracted international attention and praise. Photo by: Dana Smillie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

With the effects of climate chance becoming ever more widely and deeply felt around the globe, many climate scientists are warning that the planet is not able to support unlimited fossil fuel driven economic development without courting a climate catastrophe. Proponents of “green growth” counter that we can radically cut carbon emissions even as economic output continues to soar.

Worryingly, a closer look at their star pupil suggests that the defenders of “green growth” might be wrong.

Morocco’s efforts to grow green have attracted international attention and praise. In the latest Germanwatch climate change performance index, which rates countries’ climate policies, Morocco ranks first among all developing countries assessed; it is the only state outside Europe whose overall performance is rated as “good.”

Megabucks for megawatts: How Morocco sold donors on its billion-dollar solar gamble

Despite initial skepticism, Morocco convinced donors to fund an ambitious flagship project that will not only help the country generate 42 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 but also lower the cost of the centerpiece technology — concentrated solar power — worldwide.

“Morocco is an excellent example of green growth,” said Benoit Blarel, manager of the Environment and Natural Resources global practice at the World Bank, addressing a conference in Rabat in April this year. “There is not necessarily a contradiction between economic growth and limiting climate change.”

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About the author

Till bruckner
Till Bruckner

Till Bruckner is a freelance consultant who has worked extensively with and for local NGOs, including for Transparency International Georgia in 2008-2009. He is the author of the book "Aid Without Accountability: How 4.5 Billion Dollars in Aid to Georgia Helped the Rich and (Sometimes) the Poor." He is currently based in Morocco. The views expressed here are his own.

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