The Maldives has strongly renewed its commitment to carbon neutrality with a declaration by its President Mohamed Nasheed to phase-out HCFCs (hydro-chlorofluorcarbons), the substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used in refrigeration, including air-conditioning units, refrigerators and various types of manufacturing processes.
HCFCs not only destroy the stratospheric ozone layer which is essential to life on Earth, but they are also greenhouse gases. The Maldives has now committed to phase-out the consumption of HCFCs, which are mainly used in the air conditioning in its nearly 100 tourist resorts spread over its more than 1,200 islands.
'We believe that going green isn't just ecologically sound but also economically beneficial. The Maldives is famed for its luxury resorts, whose refrigeration systems are the source of most of the country's HCFC emissions. Moving early to phase-out the use of HCFCs over the next decade, not only helps protect the beautiful tropical environment tourists come to see, but also positions Maldives as a strong eco-destination,' said President Nasheed.
In 2007, the international community took an important step for an accelerated phase-out of HCFCs and President Nasheed has pledged to make the Maldives the world's first carbon-neutral country by 2020, ten years ahead of the Montreal Protocol phase-out schedule. The recent Joint Declaration for the Implementation of the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) is one more step towards achieving this goal and the Maldives can now also boast having the world's first national phase-out plan which specifically targets this group of chemicals.
'The Maldives has become the first country in the world to receive the funding from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol for the country's HPMP. This demonstrates to the world that Small Island States can also be at the frontline in the battle against climate change and the protection of the ozone layer,' said Ms. Maria Nolan, Chief Officer of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
High-level officials from the Maldives and the United Nations, along with high commissioners from India and various national stakeholders, during the recent meeting in Male discussed the mechanism and the way forward in expediting the implementation of the HCFC phase-out plan.
'This dialogue gave us the opportunity to brainstorm about the implementation mechanism, including the policy and legislations, private sector's involvement, energy-efficiency benefits, as well as how to put the HCFC phase-out at an appropriate place in the carbon-neutrality policy of the Maldives,' said Mr. Javier Camago, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund.
'The Montreal Protocol's success has shown that we now know that together we can address climate challenges through technology support and capacity-building efforts. What we need now is leadership to get further climate benefits from the ozone layer protection. I am pleased that the Maldives is demonstrating that leadership role' said Mr. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP.
In April, President Nasheed also brought the Maldives into the limelight once again when he was chosen as UNEP's 2010 Champion of the Earth. President of the Maldives since 2008, he has received increasing global recognition for his efforts to curb climate change and raise awareness of environmental issues, particularly as it related to island-nations.
He featured prominently in the international media in the run-up to, and during, the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. During that time, he even convened an underwater cabinet meeting on the ocean floor to highlight the grave climate change-related threats to the Maldives.