Just as Tim Smit was talking about the need to be unreasonable, in walked President Nasheed of the Maldives.
The President is one leader who recognises exactly what Tim was talking about.
Most people know that President Nasheed is a titan in the fight against climate change and is committed to making the Maldives carbon neutral by 2020.
In the last year the Maldives has:
- Published the new carbon neutral electricity plan online and inviting ‘crowd-sourcing’ comments from experts worldwide
- Committed to a new target to generate 60% of electricity via solar power by 2020, and reducing electricity emissions by 80% without putting up the cost of power to consumers
- Signed of the first contract under the new ‘feed-in-tariff’ between the state electricity company and a Male’ hotel chain to supply solar power onto the grid
- Introduced a new import regime by the Transport Ministry to ensure that in future electric cars will be a third of the price of conventional petrol cars
- Introduced new policies to encourage the uptake of renewable energy and marine transport
- Pledged to spend 2% of national income on renewable energy deployment in the country
Just imagine if 2% of global GDP spent every year on renewable technology. In case you were wondering it is a sum of about $1.25 trillion – which is obviously a huge amount, but still less far less than annual military spending. Current annual spending on renewables is about $260bn.
The Maldives is a tiny country, but it can still show global leadership in the fight against climate change. One of the most innovative ways in which the Maldives is leading this fight is crowdsourcing energy solutions through this website.
The role of tourism in environmental protection is always a controversial topic. But Jonathon Porritt, Edward Norton, Sonu Shivdasani and Mohamed Aslam, Minister of the Environment for the Maldives didn’t pull any punches in examining the subject.
The panelists all agreed that sustainable tourism was vital to protecting delicate ecosystems – but that far too much tourism still does not pay enough attention to the environments and communities in which it operates.
Again, the panelists agreed, it was vital to engage with local communities.
Edward Norton quoted a legendary writer and academic called Joseph Campbell. He said: “He (Joseph) wrote about why people believe in myths. He said people need narratives because they need to place themselves in a meaningful way within the huge universe.“
The same applies to climate change and tourism. Unless everyone feels part of the story, they are alienated by what is going on around them.
Sonu’s compared Six Senses with Apple when it came to tackle this issue. “If the resort is the iPad, then engagements with the local community are the apps. We have developed lots of apps and more are on the way.”
Throughout the last three days we have heard a huge amount about narrative and empowering normal people around the world to feel part of the climate change narrative.
The Maldives, as previously mentioned, is already using a crowdsourcing model in a bid to find innovative solutions to reduce its carbon footprint.
So what about the notion of crowdsourcing finance for developing parts of the world to develop local carbon reduction solutions?
One of the problems facing developing countries is the lack of capital and the lack of credit facilities. Could this problem be bypassed by using microfinance on a massive global scale? Imagine if 100 million western consumers gave $10 each to an investment fund that was tasked with providing the capital for sustainable technology projects in the developing world?
It is a hugely appealing concept – not least because people are suddenly empowered to help in the fight against climate change in a real way. They get to join the narrative that we have heard so much about…
Peter Head of the Ecological Sequestration Trust said the concept of sharing was vital in the fight against climate change. The most efficient use of finite resources, he explained, was sharing in a common cause.
Cloud computing is just one example of sharing – in this case computing processing power. Cloud computing is vital to his integrated resource modeling that will be made available through open source on the “cloud”.
Integrated resourcing covers energy, food, water and waste management. It is the concept that no single environmental problem can be solved in isolation.
Peter hopes that the finance can be found to role out the model for the Maldives – for the benefit of the island state and dozens like it that are facing the same environmental problems.
Later in the morning delegates heard from Jose Mariano of zero2infinity, a company that is set to make zero emission space travel a reality. Mr Mariano said that helium=filled balloons would soon be sending travelers up to an altitude of 36km – the edge of space.
Sir Richard Branson, who was sitting to Mr Mariano’s right on the platform, is sending passengers to space in a slightly higher octane fashion using his revolutionary space planes.
Sir Richard predicted that intercontinental space aircraft, made from carbon fibre, would by in commercial service within 50 years.