Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.
If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.
Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is underwriting the innovative scheme, paying up to 70% of the initial investment costs in a partnership with the German government.
Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said: “We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”
Morocco has established itself as a regional climate leader with high-profile projects, ranging from the largest windfarm in Africa to an enormous solar power plant in the Sahara desert, which opened earlier this year.
In November, Marrakech will host the COP22 climate summit to discuss preparations for implementing the Paris climate agreement.
The country’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate, shortly before an Islamic declaration on climate change last year.
“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” she said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.”
The new green mosques project plans to do this with established technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes.
The initiative has broken new ground for gender equality in Morocco too. Many mourchidates (female clerics) have been involved in the project, as well as Imams, and about a quarter of the participants in recent seminars have been women.
The first 100 mosques to get a green makeover are mostly based in big population centres – such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca – but the project will quickly move on to smaller villages and towns. With 15,000 mosques dotted around the north African country, the idea’s growth potential is clear.