Environment Forum

Tuvalu turns to solar energy – against rising seas

With a highest point 4.5 metres above sea level, the Pacific island state of Tuvalu plans to shift to generate all electricity from renewable energies by 2020, hoping to push other countries to follow suit to fight global warming.

These solar panels (left) on the main soccer stadium in Funafuti, the capital, are the first step in the plan to end dependence on fossil fuels and slow climate change blamed for pushing up world sea levels. Tuvalu’s goal is to generate all electricity from wind, solar and other green sources.

By contrast, European Union nations have among the most ambitious goals among developed countries, aiming to get 20 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Tuvalu’s plan – story here - will cost more than $20 million and will require a lot depend heavily on aid from abroad. That’s a big cost for each of the atolls’ 12,000 citizens - $1,666 – but can have other benefits such as avoiding tanker spills from imported oil.

And the plan sounds to me exactly the sort of ”measureable, reportable and verifiable” actions to offset climate change that are being demanded of developing nations in U.N. negotiations on a new climate treaty due to be agreed in December.

Maldives: “Paradise Drowning”, partly due to tourism?

A tourist from London plays with her daughter on the jetty outside the Maldivian resort of Banyan Tree on January 9, 2005. Most tourists are leaving the Maldives after the atoll nation was hit by the Asian tsunami. REUTERS/Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi AL/TWThe Maldives has a dilemma — it fears that rising seas caused by global warming could wipe the country off the map but it doesn’t want to restrict tourists who visit the Indian Ocean coral islands in aircraft whose emissions are a cause of climate change.

Read Melanie Lee and Neil Chatterjee’s story about the problem faced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is writing a book about ”Paradise Drowning” but wants to keep the tourist-dependent economy going.

What should countries like the Maldives do?

Ending poverty is the overriding goal for developing nations, but how far should they take part in fighting global warming, caused by people in rich nations on the other side of the world?