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Bilateral Carbon Treaty at COP27 Enables New Climate Mitigation Program

Implementation of Organic Waste to Energy Program, co-developed by First Climate, possible after signing of Switzerland-Morocco agreement

Earlier this week at COP27, Switzerland and Morocco signed an agreement setting the conditions for future trading of international carbon emissions reductions between the two countries. It provides the legal foundation for a progressive Organic Waste to Energy Program in Morocco, which First Climate conceptualized on behalf of the Swiss Foundation KliK.

First Climate, together with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and MSConex, a Morocco-based waste management company, is developing a climate protection program in Morocco, which supports investments in waste treatment facilities that uses organic waste from food processing to generate biogas. The program contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in two ways: first, by avoiding methane – a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more harmful than carbon dioxide – and second, by generating renewable energy, and thus, displacing fossil fuels.

For Morocco, where organic waste is predominantly deposited on landfills and releases methane in the decomposition process, this project provides an innovative solution for sustainable waste management on a national scale. However, the implementation of national waste management programs requires significant investment, which is not presently a part of Morocco’s climate mitigation pledges under the Paris Agreement. Thanks to this program, which was co-developed by First Climate, the country will benefit from sustainable waste management without having to shift resources away from other mitigation priorities.

A model for cross-border climate action

In concrete terms, the program establishes a framework to support investments in biodigesters which process organic waste through anaerobic digestion. Biogas is produced from the organic waste, which is then used to generate heat and electricity. First Climate submitted the project idea to KliK and later developed the concept of the program. Moreover, First Climate will act as the coordinating entity between the various stakeholders representing Switzerland and Morocco. The pilot project is currently being designed in Tangier and will be scaled-up, replicated, and customized to suit the specific needs of other cities and provinces in Morocco. The OWtE program is the first of its kind which responsibly addresses the problem of uncontrolled organic waste disposal. The new agreement between Morocco and Switzerland now makes it possible for the KliK Foundation – which was given the statutory mandate to compensate for emissions abroad – to buy the related emission reductions on behalf of the Swiss government.

“It’s gratifying to see the fruition of this agreement after laying the groundwork, and through all the phases which got us here since submitting the program idea in 2019. First Climate has advised both parties and, now we are ready to put our collective efforts into action,” says First Climate’s Yves Keller, the manager of the project.

Article 6 and International Emissions Trade under the Paris Agreement

This bilateral agreement sets the framework for Switzerland to purchase Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) directly from Morocco. As a Party to the Paris Agreement, Switzerland committed to reducing its emissions by at least 50% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030. While this target will be primarily reached through domestic action, Switzerland also plans to fulfil a part of its mitigation pledge abroad. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement allows countries to voluntarily cooperate with each other to achieve emission reduction targets set out in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This means that an emission reduction that happens in one country may be transferred to another country and be counted towards its own NDCs – a mechanism made possible through the Paris Agreement. Bilateral agreements according to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement enable emission-heavy countries like Switzerland to achieve part of their climate targets in countries where emissions are lower. While at the same time, these agreements create a vehicle for less developed countries to attract foreign investments into sectors that they are not primarily targeting for climate mitigation in their own NDCs due to their high costs.



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