Greenpeace’s annual report, “Toxic Air: The Real Price of Fossil Fuels,” on Air Pollution in Countries of the World, is a New Opportunity to Measure the Serious Health Impact of Air Pollution and the global economy. Closer to home, that of “Greenpeace MENA” indicates that in Morocco air pollution attributed to fossil fuels costs nearly eleven billion dirhams per year.
The organization “Greenpeace MENA” also adds that in the Middle East and North Africa, the Kingdom is very warm in the list of countries which suffer each year from a relatively high number of deaths, with 5,100 death in 2018, a good second in the MENA region just after Egypt, which tops the list. Once again, this is the Kingdom pinned down by the international environmental non-governmental organization present in more than 55 countries around the world. The results Greenpeace MENA are, so to speak, final.
For comparison, the number of deaths linked to air pollution in Algeria and Tunisia is estimated at 3,000 and 2,100 respectively, the same report indicates. The Greenpeace MENA report says that the average annual cost to Morocco of air pollution from fossil fuel emissions is estimated at 0.9% of its GDP, or $ 1.1 billion (11 billion dirhams) per year. Tunisia loses $ 400 million a year, while Algeria loses $ 840 million a year, which represents 0.5% of its GDP.
Commenting on the results and the economic impact that accompanies the health impact, a Greenpeace MENA campaign manager, Mohammed Tazrouti, said that Morocco suffers from serious problems that threaten both health and the “pocket of every Moroccan citizen “. Never mind, Greenpeace MENA recognized that the Kingdom has a leading role in the fight against the climate crisis through “ambitious commitments, particularly in the renewable energy sector”.
Morocco is positioning itself for this purpose as a leader in the renewable energy sector, receiving positive feedback with regard to this ecological and economic approach, internationally. Some recent praise has come from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which said that Morocco is playing an important role in Africa’s energy transition with its Noor Ouarzazate solar complex. It is the largest concentrated solar energy complex (CSP) in the world. While in a long-term project, Morocco seeks to produce 52% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030.
Despite this leadership in renewable energy, coal poses a serious threat to Morocco, the report added. Tazrouti, moreover, is not shy to mention it when he indicates that coal is used as “the main source of electricity production with a high rate reaching around 50%”. A 2020 study by the King Abdullah Center for Petroleum Studies and Research found that coal production in Morocco represents a lever in the electricity sector. Coal dominates the country’s electricity generation capacity with 58% of electricity production in 2016, according to the NGO study. Coal is followed by natural gas with 20% and petroleum with 10% in the 2016 report. Campaign manager Greenpeace Mena also expressed negative comments about coal, saying the material is “one of the fuels the most polluting.”
The novelty of this report is that it accompanies the news, tackling in this the subject of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) which has shaken the world in recent months. According to Greenpeace MENA’s program director, Julien Jreissati, “Air pollution exposes our societies to all kinds of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disorders including lung cancer, and it makes us more vulnerable to viruses that attack the pulmonary system, such as Covid-19.” He is joined in this by Tazrouti who claims that coal produces “toxic pollutants which cause these chronic diseases and make us more vulnerable to infections by respiratory viruses like Covid-19”.
This argument is supported, moreover, by a study by the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, which shows that residents of the coal communities “complain of health problems”. The study aligns with a broad international consensus that coal is a dangerous source of energy in terms of environmental and human health. Researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health confirmed this study, finding that communities with relatively high levels of air pollution in the United States have recorded higher mortality rates from Covid-19 than those with lower levels of air pollution.