2020 carbon neutral failure would be “disaster for maldives&rdquo

Failure by the Maldives to become carbon neutral by 2020 would be a “complete disaster” for the country, President Mohamed Nasheed today warned during a government unveiling of an audit of the nation’s carbon footprint.

The Maldives’ 2009 Carbon Audit aimed to compile the country’s current carbon footprint in relation to its current energy reliance. The document was fully funded by France-based financier La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild, which will also help to outline and find funding for a “Carbon Neutral Master Plan” to help the country set up how it can begin to meet its aims.

The 2009 audit, which was carried out by BeCitizen, an environmental consultancy based in Paris, France, found that 1.3 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) was emitted by the Maldives, with about of half of these emissions coming from diesel power generation.

These emissions corresponded to 4.1 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per individual. By way of comparison, India records 1.7 per person per year, China 5.5, France 9 and the United States 23.5.

Domestic transportation on both land and sea contributed 22 percent of the nations CO2 output during 2009, with the fishing industry and waste treatment processes amounting for 13 and 15 percent of the total output respectively, the audit added.

BeCitizen, of which La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild is a major shareholder, says that in looking ahead to developing a ten year strategy for a national low-carbon overhaul, six main areas needed to be focused on. These focuses include ensuring greater energy efficiency – such as in more efficient domestic appliances and thermal insulation – and the practical use of renewable energy forms like solar and wind power.

The environmental consultancy also pointed to adopting greener forms of transport, waste management programmes and carbon sequestration in areas such as biomass as important focus

points to try and cut the existing environmental impact fo the Maldives.

Speaking via a live link up, BeCitizen’s Flora Bernard claimed that it would be possible for the government to become carbon neutral tomorrow if it simply relied on offsetting to compensate for its total carbon footprint.

Offsetting is the practice of engaging in development projects that can provide both provide benefits both to society as well as the climate – such as planting of forests in an attempt to reduce CO2 within the air.
However, Bernard added that such actions were “missing the point” and that a focus on finding sufficient alternatives would be needed.

“Achieving carbon neutrality by 2020 is possible,” said Bernard in a statement. “It will primarily involve the country becoming energy-independent, while ensuring that the solutions also bring other environmental benefits in terms of carbon storage, resource management and biodiversity conservation.”

The high profile of the Maldives’ sustainable aims meant a failure to meet such goals would be unthinkable, Nasheed said.

With the Maldives a key model for other countries seeking to become more sustainable, an inability to meet the unilateral commitments would prove detrimental to wider arguments around the globe for adopting law carbon initiatives, Nasheed said.

If the country did, then “God help us”, the President said. His carbon neutral pledge is thought to be the toughest set out by any nation under the January 2010 Copenhagen Accord.

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2020 carbon neutral failure would be “disaster for maldives&rdquo