Maldives seeks to end oil addiction

The Maldives must cure itself of its addiction to oil and develop alternative energy sources from local resources if it is to prosper, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said today at a UN roundtable held at Bandos Island Resort.

The occasion was the Maldives signing a commitment to phase out hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) emissions by 2020, a decade ahead of other countries, and one that has attracted an assistance grant of US$1.1 million from the UN.

HCFCs (such as chlorodifluoromethane) is used in older refrigeration and air-conditioning units as a replacement for heavily ozone-depleting CFCs, however it also is now considered too harmful.

“It makes sense to move away from HCFCs,” Dr Waheed said. “It is outdated technology and has already been phased out in most western countries, and it is increasingly difficult to repair appliances that use it.”

The move was part of the government’s larger agenda of becoming carbon neutral by reducing reliance on fossil fuels, driven by economic as well as environmental imperatives, the VP explained.

“The Maldives is highly dependent on oil. Our economy totally dependent on imported fuels, but we have absolutely no control over oil prices,” Dr Waheed said. “Our economy is slowly recovering from mismanagement of the past, and an oil price hike now would destabilise our economy. We all know how volatile oil prices are – and the global economic recovery means an increased demand, which is likely to increase prices further.”

Because of the country’s dependency, Dr Waheed explain, “a high oil price means a high cost of doing business. We want to break our dependence on foreign oil using our own natural resources: sun, wind and waves. In the Maldives renewable energy makes sense because imported oil is costly – it is very expensive to ship oil to small islands like the Maldives.”

The Maldives’ oil addiction meant that “today we have one of the world’s highest prices for electricity – 25-30 US cents per kilowatt hour, and there are some reports islands where people are forced to pay 60 cent per kilowatt hour. Schools complain that 25 percent of their budget is spent fueling their diesel generators.”


A report published by the UNDP in 2007 on the vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuating oil prices ranked the Maldives dead last, a fair stretch behind Vanuatu, effectively placing the country among the world’s most oil-addicted nations.

“Island countries in general are extremely vulnerable to increased oil prices. They comprise distant and small markets and have to bear the burden of higher shipping costs, while electrical power generation is largely fueled by diesel,” the report noted.

President Mohamed Nasheed said that the Maldives stood perfectly placed to demonstrate to the rest of the world “that a less hazardous development pattern is possible, viable and financially feasible.”

He acknowleged the efforts of the previous government towards that development, noting that the Maldives was able to phase CFCs two years before its mandated deadline.

“I thank the previous government, especially former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for his singular focus on CFCs, ozone depletion and the environmental issues he raised very early.”

He also acknowledged that even if the Maldives succeeded in demonstrating that a country could be powered by renewable energy and reached its goal of carbon neutrality, “what we do not have major impact health of planet.”

Rather, Nasheed said, the Maldives could prove to other countries that isolated communities could be self-sustaining.

“The window of opportunity this planet has is not so long – science is very certain and we have to act,” he said. “If we don’t, this planet will go on, with new equilibriums and balances that may not be receptive to human habitation – that is what we are trying to overcome.

“We have the technology already – it is a question of how bold we are in implementing it.”


12 thoughts on “Maldives seeks to end oil addiction”

  1. As an addicted country, the youth's addiction to hashish oil and other drugs should also be stopped.

  2. In addition to moving away from fossil fuel to renewable sources, we must also reduce our usage of energy. We need to find ways to employ more energy efficient devices and design our buildings and in a less energy intensive manner.

  3. Hash - you got there before I did 🙂 I was hoping the headline referred to hash oil too. Not that the topic of carbon neutrality isn't an important one. And nice to see the president being presidential.

  4. our country has more serious addiction problems that we should be concerned of..

    our president has his priorities wrong..

  5. Hash 11:09, When I first saw the heading I also thought JJ is talking about ending the hash oil addiction. But I wonder why u r talking about youth's addiction to hash oil. There are no youths addicted to hash oil here. They are all on 'brown sugar'. It is the oldies including a lot of people from the ruling elite particularly MDP(I dont want to mention names, but its no secret) who are addicted to hash oil.

  6. There is just no way for the Maldives to end the dependence on oil if we continue to live is 195 sandbanks spread across 90thousand sq km. Alternative energy is too expensive. It is not a solution. Just imagine the cost of putting up wind turbines or solar farms to power all our 195 islands. All this talk about carbon neutrality and alternative energy is just another ploy by the Govt to divert attention from the real issues. I am surprised that VP with his doctorate fromStnaford could not figure out that it is impossible to power these 195 islands with solar or wind power. The costs are just astronomical. If these guys really want to do anything the focus should be on consolidating populations over long term so that economies of scale can be achieved. Tell me how anyone could put in millions of dollars to provide power to islands like Ranmandhoo, Dhiyadhoo or Fainu.

  7. I do support the plan for renewable enrgy bcos that is what countries like should do now for our future population.How it takes a lot more than that at least for now.
    People must need to be educated to save energy. It is so common in our house holds wasting valuable energy and household expenses specially on electricity. Maldives may have highest in wastage for energy, and food. We have a habbit of overdoing things.

    Leaving fans lights, fans & TV on is common even if nobody is using them.

    Electric wiring- if the wiring is old can cause extra energy consumption. It is also common elect connections are made without proper wiring.

    Stelco should should let public know better statistics on av household consumptions and sent out to individuals to monitor the individual consumption against Islands average consumption so that individuals awareness will save energy costs.

    Simply giving subsidies will only spoil and is not the option.

    I would call on goverment to look more seriousely on immediate issue which help and manage the country's economy in more educated environment.

  8. 300000 people scattered in 200 islands, some having less than 200 inhabitants and plan to connect all the islands with regular transport and develop all the facilities in all the islands to Male standard while raising Male's standard to international level. Is that leading to carbon neutrality?


    Why not go back to sails and fish as the ancestors did?

    Why not get rid of cable TV, mobile phones and internet?

    Why not go back to the traditional toilet, namely the the nearest beach and use sea water and sand to clean?

    Why not discard fridges airconditioners and fans?

    Why not send back all the expat workers?

    Why not have no lights in the night?

  9. I'm just waiting to see if they actually do anything. I honestly think they've talked enough about this.


    Let's discuss that via coconut leaf courier!

  10. DOCTOR IN DA HOUSE - very well said. . The only life style that is suitable for 300000 people in 195 islands scattered over 90000 sq km is the life style that evolved in the Maldives over the 2 millenia during which the islands have been inhabited. The islands are only suitable for one thing - only one thing. That is to be used as temporary shelter for a few dozen fishermen and their families when they are on the move feeding on the pelagic fish around their islands. Our people didnt use iPhones, they had no internet, no Honda Wave motorbikes, no toilets, no fridges, no microwaves. They lived a life of sustenance eking out a simple living from their sorrounding seas.

    All this problem came when we wanted to enjoy all the modern amenities of a metropolitan city. Our people want to live the life of a New Yorker in one of our islands suited only for subsistence based fishery. And the problem is our politicians dont want to tell our people the way it is. The hard fact of the matter is it is impossible ...IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSSSSSIBLE to achieve most of the things our people want as long as we continue to live in 195 islands. During Gayoom's time the opposition used to cry foul over Abdulla Hameed not wanting to implement population consolidation in any meaningful manner lest he had to give up certain political advantages. The same thing is happening now. The Govt is draping the reality through this transport network and flat project. The Govt is continuing to give false hope to people from islands like F.Magoodhoo saying that some Italian university is going to come and build their campus on the island. My God. Please Anni. Cut the crap. Be real. We elected you with high hopes. We still believe that although your party has been corrupted to a large extent you are not in politics for money. So, please, please please do some good during the next three years. Then we will come out and work our balls to make sure that you get re-elected.

  11. Whenever I want you, all I have to do is dream
    Dream ..dream ... dream ..
    President please stop this nonsense called publicity stunts, people are fedup with these TV adds, now they need some actions .. fus vaudhu oyaadhanee thoa?

  12. We have a government show us everything in day dreams and on papers. They dont have any clue to talk something feasible and sensible for common man can even understand.


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