While Morocco presses on with its renewable energy projects in occupied Western Sahara, the EU's Foreign Affairs Chief has clarified that the EU will not provide any financial contributions.
"As regards renewable energy projects in Western Sahara, the EU does not finance any such projects and when approached by European companies and citizens, the EU informs them accordingly of the legal status of Western Sahara and in particular regarding the exploitation of natural resources", Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the EU Commission, declared on 2 May 2017.
Mogherini's statement came in response of a Parliamentary Question from MEP Migual Viegas (GUE/NGL, Portugal). "Some of Morocco’s renewable energy development projects are taking place in occupied Western Sahara. Energy is generated there, without the consent of its people, and exported back to Morocco with the participation of EU companies such as Siemens. Companies from the EU being involved in the plundering of natural resources in Western Sahara not only hinders progression of the UN’s political process, but also strengthens Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara. What are the High Representative’s views on this situation and what action will she take in response to these unlawful activities?", Viegas had asked in December 2016.
Meanwhile, Morocco plans to exploit the renewable energy potential of the territory it holds under illegal occupation are catching speed. Construction work on the first solar plants in the occupied territory has started in April this year. The plants are expected to become operational in 2018. A new wind park, announced just a year ago at COP 22 in Marrakech in November 2016, is about to be erected.
Morocco holds three-quarters of Western Sahara are under military occupation, even though its claims to the territory have been refuted time and again by the international community. By tapping into its renewable energy potential, Morocco becomes more dependent on its untenable presence in the territory - further complicating the UN's efforts to broker lasting and just peace to this decades-old conflict.
The vice-president of the Panafrican Parliament, Suelma Beirouk, was to attend COP22, but is now being held by Moroccan police. Morocco has occupied her homeland Western Sahara - and illegally built windmills on it.
How can it be wrong to develop renewable energy, in a world that is in desperate need for a green transition? In Western Sahara, the problems are numerous.