The effects of Maldives being the world’s first carbon neutral country to the global environment as a whole will be minimal, but to the country the effects will be felt and felt strongly. The government has not yet revealed a comprehensive plan about how they intend to achieve this target and is believed to be working on plans to implement the works as soon as the studies are ready. One advantage we in the Maldives have over others is our country’s small size when we intend to go 100% green and the government just seems to have grasped only this notion out of the whole picture and is trying to make do with a grand project.
As the plans are yet to be formulated we shall take the liberty of musing to ourselves how this target is to be achieved. However the context has to be applied here in the divided politics of our country and it has to be remembered that all voices on this matter do not sing to the same tune. The reason is simple. For years Maldives was dominated by a president who played the environmental card to the foreign media to mask the growing unrest at home and in the process has done much to raise awareness of the public to the environmental issues at hand. The people were made to believe that the then president Gayoom was the inventor of green politics. After his electoral defeat and once Anni became president those who supported the former president has come to believe Anni is no body but a copy cat stealing Gayoom’s policies. There might or might not be substance to that view but at least thats some context to the issue at hand.
Now if the government does indeed want to become carbon neutral (which they pledged) the very first step could be to shut down the diesel generators in various islands and to build a national power grid most of which would be submerged on the seabed connecting all the roughly 200 inhabited islands of the country. The grid will be powered by a few select power stations which could be anything from wave power, solar and wind farms. Alternate ways to produce power such as wave and solar current technologies has been tested and proven to be effective in the country.
Next the transport sector shall be made greener by urging the people to use less diesel and petrol and make more use of electric bikes scooter , cars and buggies etc. The islands of Maldives being small and as there are few roads built, the “need for speed” shall be curbed. Simply put there is nowhere to drive a 1200cc petrol guzzler as its forbidden to drive faster than 30km per hour and that much speed can easily be attained by a battery powered vehicle. Here as a policy what the government would have to do is to ask the people to make sacrifices on personal preferences in favor of their policies or the common good of humankind. Incentives shall be offered to battery powered vehicles to make them attractive for the people who by now are used to fast petrol powered bikes. etc.
Vehicles running on bio fuel does not seem to be a good choice as the recent food crisis in various parts of the globe was attributed farmers switching to bio fuel producing plants from food producing plants. Not that what we choose here in Maldives would have any effect in terms of global supply or demand of bio fuel products but atleast avoiding the bio fuel would be putting up a principled stand on a moral issue.
Buying our electric power needs from India of Sri Lanka via a submarine cable could be an option if technology and feasibility allows it. This could be an option if what we are able to produce here in our country by alternative means could be insufficient considering such factors as maintenance of the production systems and the demand on land such power production would take, as land is very much in a premium here. India already exports power in this manner to Bhutan and has recently signed with Sri Lanka in a deal to export power there which in the first phase (about 2 years from now) would supply about 500MW of power upgrade-able to 1GW in 4 years time.