Our second day in Marrakech is a Sunday and both negotiations and side-events take a pause. We take the opportunity to discover yet another side of Marrakech, the Soukhs. It’s here where we discover the country of 1001 nights. From the large Medina square, one of the busiest squares we have ever seen, starts a buzzling jungle of small shops with all kinds of flavours and colours, from herbs, fruits and perfumes to handcrafted lamps and leather bags to cheap souvenirs. Scooters, pedestrians and mules happily mingle in corridors that are as narrow as the famous eye of a needle. Back on the Medina square we suddenly find ourselves with a snake around the neck and a henna tattoo on the hand – “almost for free”, of course.
A place full of contrasts
But Marrakech has many faces. The Sustainable Innovation Forum is the biggest business side event organised by the United Nations Environmental Programme and Vattenfall is one of the sponsors. To pick up our access badges to the event, we take a local taxi. It’s an old Mercedes equipped with wooden handles where modern cars are equipped with moulded plastics. The dashboard is covered with embroideries and our friendly driver is dressed in the traditional Moroccan Jellaba. The contrasts with the modern, luxurious and elegant “Hivernage” district where the large international resort hosting the Forum is located could merely be bigger.
NO CLIMATE PROTECTION WITHOUT SOCIAL INCLUSION
These contrasts remind us that climate protection must also be about inclusion. When the Sustainable Innovation Forum is opened on Monday with a speech by the Mayor of Rio, he stated it very clearly. The experience of Rio; the efforts that were made to improve public transport on the occasion of the Olympic Games were not only targeting an international audience and the protection of the climate. More importantly, they resulted in halving daily transportation times for the disadvantaged citizens. But the Mayor also had another message: Even if Mr. Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax, and even if the US were to pull out from the International Climate Agreement “We can make cities great again.” And: “Our climate protection efforts are going to be huuuuge”. The audience loved him for that.
CITIES DRIVE THE COP OF ACTION
At the various debates and press conferences which we’re following in the Civil Society and Negotiation Zones at COP22 in the afternoon, we hear exactly these messages over and over again: Technology advancement, costs advantages of renewables and changes in the investment culture are irreversible - whatever the Trump administration intends to do. It’s the “COP of Action” where, from Rio to Oslo, all actors are determined to inspire each other in moving forward as fast as possible and, if need be, even without the support of a national government.
A new German Climate Action Plan
That social aspects will play an important role is also underlined by German Climate Minister Barbara Hendricks when presenting Germany’s new climate action plan. Reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 is the goal, broken down into specific goals for five different sector. In how far this must include a phase-out of coal had been controversially discussed in Germany over the past weeks. According to Hendricks the question of structural change must now be addressed by a Commission bringing together stakeholders from all walks of life, as otherwise “we run the risk of losing the support of the population for our climate efforts”.
Almost intoxicated by the smell of old, high-emission combustion engines all around us on our way back to the guesthouse, we discuss and conclude “point taken”.