There aren’t many countries more threatened by climate change than the 1,000+ atolls of the Maldives. This coral reef paradise rarely rises more than 5 feet above sea level (~1.5 meters) and thus faces the threat of mostly disappearing by century’s end. Their President Mohamed Nasheed decided not to wait for other countries to act, and yesterday pledged that the Maldives will stop emitting greenhouse gas pollution within 10 years.
It’s easy for those of us living more than a few feet above sea level to currently ignore the meter rise in sea level predicted to occur over the next several decades. But when your country is completely dependent on the fragile balance of coral reefs and ocean volume, policymakers cannot ignore the seriousness of global warming.
BBC reports that this nation of a few hundred thousand people southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean plans to spend just over $100 million per year to convert its villages and famous resorts from fossil fuel dependence to an efficient utilization of wind and solar energy. The Maldives only has ~50 MW of installed electrical capacity (less than the current wind capacity in the rural state of South Dakota, ranked #19 in state wind power capacity). So, renewable energy on this scale is certainly doable. And while their action won’t significantly cut global emissions, they can become a model for other island nations and every institution worldwide.
Bottom line: It’s great to see climate leadership in countries like The Maldives. Resource-rich institutions such as universities and companies have a responsibility to act with similar urgency to prevent the dangerous climate future from business as usual energy consumption.
Onwards in the Sustainable Energy Transition-