The Honourable Minister of Housing and Environment, Mr Aslam; the Honourable Secretary, Ministry of Power, the Government of India, Mr Umashankar; the Regional Director of UNEP, Dr Young-Woo Park; Resident Coordinator, my friend, Andrew Cox; Honourable Ministers; Honourable Mayor; Distinguished representatives of governments and industry; Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning and Assalaam Alaikum.

I would like to, first of all, on behalf of the government of the Maldives, welcome all of you to the Maldives. We are delighted to have you, not because you have come from faraway, as much as because of the valuable contributions you all are making to the development of the Maldives.

I would like to extend to you warm greetings from His Excellency President Mohamed Nasheed.

The Honourable Secretary, the Government of India has talked about energy, energy efficiency issues. As you all know, the Maldives in 99% dependent on oil for generation of electricity and the source of energy for the Maldives industry.

Yesterday, the price of Brent Crude oil was US$109 per barrel. It went up close to US$150 recently. And it is not going to come down very much. We know that largely the economic development is driven by energy and with the growth trajectories of large countries like China and India the demand for fossil fuels is not going to come down. Recent tragedies in Japan and the question with nuclear energy is going to further complicate issues. So I think it is time we accepted the reality and begin to address the issue of energy efficiency.

Today the prices of electricity in the Maldives have gone up largely because of the changes in the price of diesel, because we generate all of our electricity with diesel.

I call upon all my brothers and sisters in the Maldives to begin to pay a special attention to energy efficiency issues. We have to develop a culture, a behavoural change of turning of lights, and using air conditioners and refrigerators making the optimum use of them.

So the work that is being done here today, and last year, with the initiation of the implementation plan for reduction of HCFCs we have, we have embarked on this journey to increase energy efficiency.

I know that today, we are starting two major initiatives here, roundtable as well as a roadshow and I understand that following that there is also a regional meeting on the subject.

So I wish you all very best in all this deliberations.

As you know, Parties to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to accelerate the phase out of Hydro Chloro Flouro Carbons (HCFCs). We know that the mainstay of refrigeration and air-condition equipments at present is HCFCs. However, their accelerated phase out has posed a piquant situation because of the fact that the commercially available alternative, Hydro Flouro Carbon (HFC), though are non ODS but have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP). Thus, the phase-in of HFCs, in the business as usual scenario of the present global regulatory framework, will be counterproductive as the effects due to their high GWP, particularly for Maldives as a country at the forefront of anticipated climate impact.

The Government of Maldives recognizes and hence gives great importance to providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply to all citizens and protect the environment and people from the hazardous effects of energy production. The government has set itself the ambitious goal of going carbon neutral. It has committed itself to provide all with access to affordable and reliable supply electricity achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by year 2020, promote energy conservation and energy efficiency, increase national energy security.

The HCFC Phaseout Management Plan (HPMP) approved last year by the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund of Montréal Protocol is the very first HPMP approved and it is one of the examples of the strong desire of the Government to harness the dual goals of ozone layer and climate protection that technology leapfrogging could provide. The HPMP will usher in innovative policies and measures to not only create but sustain markets for energy efficient no-Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) low- Global Warming Potential refrigerants based technologies.

Last year at the Inauguration of the high level roundtable meeting to launch the HPMP phaseout management plan, we emphasized on the opportunities that will be created with the HCFC phase-out, today we are seeing substantial action towards that direction. Athul, I am extremely pleased that you reported that there has been a reduction in the Maldives, since then.

The industry roundtable and the roadshow will enable Maldives to make an informed policy and technology choice that is consistent with its avowed commitment of carbon neutrality by 2020. The event will help in exploring opportunities for Public Private Partnerships to derive the other environmental benefits including climate change in phase out of HCFCs. It will also provide an opportunity to engage a number of relevant sectors consuming HCFCs, especially Fisheries and Tourism, to explore business to business demand for climate friendly technologies and discuss challenges and opportunities for implementation.

Growing energy demand will be propelled largely by use of energy using equipments, in particular, air-conditioning, refrigeration sector in commercial as well as households. Accelerated phaseout of HCFCs provides an opportunity to adopt energy efficiency and also to integrate refrigerant standards in a manner that the HCFC phaseout does not result in automatic lock-in to HFCs, which will be counterproductive to the overall GHG emission goals, given that their Global Warming Potential (GWP) is thousands times more than that of CO2.

There is an urgent need to stimulate innovative transitions to alternatives that are chosen not just for compliance with restrictions on ODS, but also take into consideration climate protection. The dual goals of ozone layer and climate protection will require innovative solutions as well as political and business commitments to investing in energy efficient, low GWP alternatives. Such technology leapfrogging will require innovative policies and measures to not only create but sustain markets.

It is in this context that the industry roundtable has been organized with the objective of:

Identifying the present, near-term and long-term need for policies, technologies and services implementing the Montreal Protocol;

Identifying and discuss the emerging best practices case studies and make the green economy case for accelerated transitioning to environmentally sound financially affordable HCFC alternatives;

Exploring opportunities for Public Private Partnerships to derive the other environmental benefits including climate change in phase out of HCFCs;

Engaging a number of relevant sectors consuming HCFCs, especially Fisheries and Tourism sector, to explore business to business demand for climate friendly technologies and discuss challenges and opportunities for implementation.

The focus of the Industry roundtable, I understand, will be on following themes:

Zero ODP- low GWP, energy efficient cooling technologies in the Context of Climatic Challenge; Focusing on industrial sectors heavily dependent on HCFC, using bottom up approach with due identification of available technologies and end users in A5 countries in the following sectors; Fisheries and tourism; Food processing and storage; Transportation and shipping; Foam sector; Production sector; reducing byproduct emission.

The MOU signed between the Ministry of Housing and Environment, UNEP and Maldives Customs will provide, capacity building, technical assistance and providing necessary equipment to implement multilateral environmental agreements. Congratulations for signing the agreement.

We are able to make this progress because we have committed, dedicated and winning partners on your side. We want to express gratitude to all partners who have helped the Maldives make this progress, especially UNEP. Please extend our greetings and gratitude to the Executive Director.

I would also like to thank UN, UNDP in particular for the support they have provided. Thank you to all those who have attended and are attending this meeting GIZ, Government of Germany, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of State, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, Indian High Commission. Thank you to Mr Umashankar, Excellency for coming to this meeting; we are highly honoured by your presence. And thank you for you offioer of support to the Maldives.

Thank you and all the best.