Good morning the Vice President, colleagues from the United Nations network, the Indian High Commissioner and the distinguished delegates present here today:
I understand that I was not supposed to speak here. But I thought having heard and also in having seeing what we are up to, it is perhaps also important for me to understand what we are trying to do.
What we are in my mind, trying to do is to map out a low hazardous development pattern. That involves phasing-out all sorts of carbons: chlorofluorocarbons, hydrocarbons and of course all the fossil fuel based carbons as well. Chemistry has never been my strong point. But I do understand that this country has been able to phase-out chlorofluorocarbons – CFCs, two years before our deadline. I thank the previous government, especially President Gayoom for his singular focus on CFCs, Ozone depletion and the environmental issues that he raised very early in the mid-80s.
I do remember very well my grandmother thinking that we were talking about a hole in the heavens. The manner in which she pointed out the skies, it was clearly understood that in her mind we were talking about the heavens. But I think traditional societies are also able to have a better grip on the science in understanding that the planet has boundaries. It has limits and we have to live within those limits. At the same time, as the Minister has pointed out we cannot give up the good life. So we are seeking new technologies.
Phasing-out HCFC is part of our low carbon or rather low hazardous development pattern. The idea is that we become carbon neutral by 2020, and therefore the idea is that we also phase-out hydrochlorofluorocarbons by 2020. The goal post initially was 2030 but we would like to bring it a little forward.
The window of opportunity that we have is not so long. Science is very certain and we have to act. I understand that what we do is not going to have an amazing impact on the health of the planet. I also do understand that what we do today is not going to save us or effect to save us today, but it will have an effect on us 30years down the line.
What we are trying to do is to say that a low carbon or less hazardous development pattern is possible. It is economically viable and financially feasible and as the UN Representative pointed out, in our mind those who are bold enough to embrace the future with green technology would be the winners of tomorrow.
We are on the threshold of a technological shift far greater than the industrial revolution and if we cannot see the benefits of that, especially the economic benefits of that. Then I believe, we are not seeing as we should be seeing.
I always think, we did not leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones but we left it because we found other technologies, materials or other substances. We found other ways of doing things and better ways of doing things. I am sure, carbon is still available, coal is cheap and many, many other things are cheaper. But what we are asking and questioning is on what is more efficient and what is more sustainable. We have to survive – as a people, as a civilization, as a planet, as a family.
The world will live on, on another balance. But we won’t just be around. The threat is not the universe, not the planet, but humanity – us. This planet will go on, but it will of course in the future have other equilibriums and other balances; balances which will not be receptive for human habitat. That is what we are trying to overcome and that is what we are trying to see that we may be able to shift to.
Very early in our plans to become carbon neutral, we thought that we should come up with a survival kit, an idiot’s sheet on how to do it, how we may become carbon neutral. One of the things that we were talking always about was a building code. Phasing out HCFCs is part of that building code. It is how we are now going to start using another substance or hopefully another technology for cooling and refrigeration.
Cooling is very important for us. We live in hot climates, and therefore, cooling is wasting a fair amount of earth’s resources if we do it in the manner that we are doing now. We want to see other technological shifts, other methods of how we may be able to cool and how we may be able to refrigerate.
We have the technology; there is no doubt about that. It is a question of how bold we are in implementing it, using it and also it is a question of how effective we are in selling the idea to big or rather rapidly industrialising countries.
We should be able to have the technologies and test it here and say to the rest of the world: look, here it is working and it is fine. There is nothing wrong with it and it is economically viable. In fact, in one of the resorts in Baa atoll, the Environment Ministry is going to declare the atoll as a conservation zone. There is a resort which is already testing with this technology and they tested that it is perfectly fine without the gas so much.
So, I think what we are today trying to do is very well in line with our thoughts on how we may become more efficient in development. We have many examples of how countries have been able to follow a less hazardous development pattern without carbon or not just simply carbon – I would say less hazardous. There are many, many other gases or many, many other substances which we would be better off not to use in our development efforts. If we are able to demonstrate, I believe it would be easier for the bigger countries to say or to agree on their peaking years.
One of the issues in Copenhagen for big emitting countries were on deciding when they will agree to peak in their carbon emissions. They are doing all the sums with the existing technologies. What we are trying to do is shift the technology so that the sums can be done in a friendlier, or rather a more digestible manner to us here in the Maldives and the rest of us living in this planet.
As I pointed out, I really have no point here in talking but I thought that I would like to say a few words. I thank UNEP, I thank all the UN agencies for holding this very important meeting here. I would ask countries not to wait until 2030. We would request from countries to do it now. Science is telling us that we have a window of opportunity of 7 years perhaps, before we may go to a tipping point. So it is in my mind important that we try our best.
And again, thank you very much for coming here and thank you very much for joining hands with us on this endeavour. It is not going to be easy. We are talking about refitting all the buildings. We are talking about refitting this resort for instance so this is going to be a fair amount of work.
I believe this is going to stimulate economic activity. It is going to create jobs and it is going to lead us to a path of a more greener developing pattern. And I see industry captains as well. And I am sure that they will understand the necessity of it and also the benefits, the opportunities. We are doing this as an opportunity not as a hindrance, not as an obligation.
Thank you very much for coming here to the Maldives and having the meeting. Than you director, thank you very much for all the good work that UNEP is doing for the Maldives. Thank you.