By Jonathan Odongo, Lina Yassen and Tais Gadea Lara.
A walk in the Medina market of Marrakech leads us to know what its main actors think and how they live daily. In the country that will have the largest solar power plant in the world, what do people know about renewable energy? Do they feel the climate is changing? Walk with us on this widely cultural market to know the answers.
Since the celebration of the Paris Agreement in December of 2015 in the French capital, the world began to look at Morocco as the next big step in man’s struggle against climate change. The African country began to lead the race towards renewable energy.
In February of this year, King Mohamed VI of Morocco inaugurated a solar plant in Ouarzazate with a currently operational capacity of 160 megawatts, waiting to gradually increased it in the future up to become the world’s largest solar power plant.
This news reached the pages of international newspapers, but also the ears of the people living in one of the greatest cultural markets: the Medina. Among its colorful streets, between continuous offerings by vendors, among motorcycles, carts and bicycles that pass almost without asking permission, there are merchants who work daily selling products of different industries
The news of what will be the largest plant in the world came to its attention by the media. Solar energy is isolated in Morocco, a few kilometers from Marrakech. However, some seem to begin to see the use of the sun to generate electricity. It may not be their friends who use it, but they heard about people using solar energy. They say it is something more expensive but useful.
The impact of COP22 is not linked to climate change or environmental care, the axis for these entrepreneurs is another: the economic activity.
“It’s very beautiful, because it’s the first time that the COP is here in Marrakech. It’s really positive for local people because of tourism and all the people that is coming from other countries”, said Hassan (26), who sells jewelry.
The bags seller, Abdeali (27) adds another special point of view: “It was a good idea to have this big conference here, to make Morocco known on other countries.”
But Zakaria (24) is critical about the conference: “It’s always the same. They are trying to cover the wall, but inside it’s all the same. Nothing is going to change.”
This doesn’t mean that climate change is not part of the lives of these people. They already begin to feel it daily and firsthand. “Of course we feel the change on climate, and we know that, because of our activities, the carbon emissions are increasing,” expressed Abdulfatah (29).
Hassan is even more affirmative: “Climate is changing. Now we have a mixing on local climate: sometimes it feels like summer, sometimes it’s not.”
Chaziouzaziz (48) also says: “Before we usually had two or three days with more than 45°C, now we can have an entirely month with that hot temperatures.”
In a market where men are the majority, Fatima (30) makes a difference as an example of local entrepreneurship as a way to provide a molehill to change the situation. “We sell natural products that are produced by a cooperative of local women and we are certified as fair-trade. We changed from plastic bags to recycle ones.” She also referred to that “mixing” on climate: “Climate today is unpredictable; we don’t know if now is summer or autumn. We don’t know how temperatures will be.”
Asking to not take her photo, Saida (30) is also an example of local positive action working with natural products. But she also feels being affected by climate with her activities: “It was supposed to rain this November, and there is still no rain. This affects the farm, this affects the production, this affects my products.”
Perhaps the economy is the premium interest for these people, but they also care about climate change, especially during November where the weather begins to feel more like summer than autumn. The reflections of an old man, Moustafa (68) fabrics entrepreneur, leaves us thinking: “COP22 is a big event with a lot of smart people with good reputation working on it. If you see that something is wrong, you work to eliminate it. We are seeing what big industries are doing. We have brain, and eyes, and heart to act.”