Middle East & North Africa
Our Middle East and North Africa network consists of formal cross-party groups of MPs in the Parliaments of Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia, where our MPs are working hard to harness the power of the desert sun. Our work in the region is co-ordinated from Tunis by our Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Dr Dhamir Mannai.
A particular focus for our work in the region is large-scale solar energy, given the extraordinary strength and consistency of solar radiation in the region and the suitability of sparsely-populated desert areas for utility-scale solar generation. Wind power too shows considerable potential. Given this vast wealth of untapped energy potential, the nations of the Middle East and North Africa could use renewable energy as an engine of socio-economic development. Investment in renewable infrastructure would create jobs and attract foreign capital, while the energy produced could power domestic towns, cities and industries. Additionally, given its proximity to the EU, the region's vast surpluses of solar energy could be cheaply and efficiently exported via high-voltage direct current cables to European consumer markets – thus generating considerable export revenue for the region, and helping the EU to meet its ambitious decarbonisation targets.
In Morocco, our cross-party group of MPs are working on the creation of a dedicated national regulatory agency for renewable electricity, increasing government funding for renewables in the national budget, reducing import duties on solar PV equipment, and providing legislative oversight on the government's efforts to meet its targets of 42% renewable energy by 2020.
As well as asking parliamentary questions and holding ongoing meetings with government officials and the Minister for Energy, the Climate Parliament MPs have recently led a successful campaign to almost halve the VAT on imports of solar panels and renewable energy equipment; raised climate and energy issues onto the agenda for the Parliamentary National Policy Study Workshop; pushed for a 10% increase in budget allocation for renewable energy in the next national budget; submitted proposals for research and development projects in the fields of solar and wind energy; and drafted an amendment to the Environment Bill which would expand the remit of the Economic and Social Council to include environmental considerations.
In Jordan, Climate Parliament MPs have been pressing the economic and social case for renewable energy within the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and in meetings with the Minister for Energy, and are currently working on a legislative initiative to revise the existing legal framework governing energy, renewable electricity, and energy efficiency.
In Tunisia, Climate Parliament MPs proposed the creation of a new independent law dedicated to renewable energy, separate from the existing legislation governing the use of fossil fuel energy, and subsequently requested the Ministry of Energy to draft a new law on renewables. The law, which used Moroccan renewables legislation presented by Moroccan Climate Parliament MPs as a model, laid out a “Tunisian Strategy for the Energy Transition”, and proposed a target of 30% renewable energy by 2030. The bill also sets out an Energy Transition Fund to support the production of renewable energy through the redirection of fossil fuel subsidies.
Finally, two members of the Tunisian Climate Parliament group of MPs drafted a proposal to the Constitutional Committee which added two sentences on climate change and the importance of sustainability to the preamble to the draft Tunisian Constitution, and an additional article guaranteeing the people's right to a healthy and balanced environment, and requiring the state to contribute to preserving the climate. The amendment was accepted and now forms part of the new Tunisian Constitution, which was ratified and adopted in January 2014 - thus making Tunisia only the third country in the world, and the first outside of Latin America, to make a formal constitutional commitment to combatting climate change.