The sharks are circling.
At least, that’s what it felt like in the convention halls just outside COP22, the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
As world leaders attempt to implement the Paris Climate Agreement signed last year, crony capitalists are gathering, eager to take a bite out of the giant heap of cash allotted for the UN Green Climate Fund, and massive national grants and subsidies.
The convention was jam packed with high tech and expensive displays from organizations like wind and solar power companies and even an association offering “climate risk coverage” for climate change disasters.
With thousands of delegates attempting to put their new-found billions to use, these companies smell blood in the water.
One wind power company with the fitting name of “Gaia Energy,” a self-prescribed “large scale renewable energy developer,” admitted how unreliable these farms really are: “It will take 7 years to complete one wind energy project…In a good case, [the turbines] will spin 50% of the time.”
The regions of Africa are proving to be a gold mine for companies looking to expand their so-called “green” reach. A map displayed at Gaia’s setup shows projects in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Cote D-Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and even Iran.
Renault Nissan was also in attendance, showing off their fancy new electric car available in Morocco. According to the salesman, the model on display will cost between 17,000 and 26,000 Euro, with a range of only 130 miles on a full charge. That’s under ideal driving conditions. After staying here in Marrakech for the better part of a week, I can say I’ve only seen one electric car charging station. And that was at the UN itself.
Assistant Manager for Communications & External Affairs of Acwa Power, Abdelmajid Benjelloun, explained to us the Morocco Solar Power Plan through slick virtual reality machines. The plant, known as the NOOR, is to be finished sometime in 2017. Unlike other photovoltaic (PV) panels, the NOOR uses a system called concentrating solar power or CSP. This allows the plant to provide energy well into the night hours, even without the sun shining, by using molten salt that creates steam and powers a turbine.
However, the promise of an efficient system that requires water in the middle of an African desert to provide minimal amounts of power seems similar to the mirage of an oasis.
We asked Benjelloun about the killing of birds and wildlife by solar plants. His response: “Oh…that’s a good question.” He couldn’t provide any other answer.
It’s clear that while the delegates and heads of state wine and dine, crony capitalists are gathering around, trying to snag as much money as they can, regardless of the consequences.
What happens if the next U.S. president tells the sharks they will have no more of our money to feed on?