Morocco Aims for Accord on Financing Climate Change Projects

NEW YORK — Morocco is aiming to get a global agreement on how developed countries plan to finance climate change projects in poorer nations, during a United Nations conference in Marrakesh in November.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said that the aim of the United Nations climate change conference, or COP22, is to get governments, private companies and banks to agree on how to reach $100 billion per year in funding for the projects.

“If we see the real needs, they are gigantic, so actually $100 billion is not that much. This sum shouldn’t be a psychological blockage, but rather launch a positive dynamic,” Mr. Mezouar said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The issue of funding had been postponed over the past few years as governments worked toward an agreement—reached last year in Paris—on how to reduce the impact of climate change.

Earlier in the week, during a special event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, 60 countries representing 47% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions announced they had ratified the pact.

Mr. Mezouar said he is confident that during the Marrakesh conference enough countries will have approved the Paris agreement to make a formal announcement that it is in force, which requires ratification by at least 55 countries representing 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The announcement of the entry into force during COP will be a great signal. Nobody would understand if countries sign the Paris agreement but then they don’t ratify it,” Mr. Mezouar said.

Mr. Mezouar said that his government is working closely with France, Belgium and the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.

“In Europe intelligence services understand that they need to cooperate more because the lives of civilian populations are at stake. There is no other choice given the risks,” he said.

Many of the perpetrators of the recent terror attacks in France and Belgium were carried out by people of Moroccan extraction. Mr. Mezouar said countries need to address radicalization by working more closely with imams, many of whom have no formal training. He said Morocco is training imams through a special institute, Mohammed VI.

He said the Moroccan community in France and Belgium “is attached to religious teaching, so Islam has to be taught according to the principles of this religion, and not invented things exploiting the psychological weakness of some people to radicalize them.”

The foreign minister welcomed a recent opinion by the European Court of Justice overruling a judgement that struck down a 2012 free trade and fisheries deal between Morocco and the EU.

“The ECJ opinion is an important step. Morocco has always been clear: The EU is our primary partner. We’ve been working on a partnership for decades and we have the possibility to go further, but we can only implement it when we have legal certainty,” Mr. Mezouar said.

The trade deal was struck down after the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which fights for the independence of the disputed territory of Western Sahara, lodged a complaint that its interests weren’t taken into account in the deal. Mr. Mezouar said that the dispute over Western Sahara is being dealt with at the U.N. and that “if the EU or others try to step out of that process, it’s not good.”

“It’s a minor conflict. Nobody would gain from transforming it into a major conflict, in a region that is exposed enough,” he said.