Maldives Stock Exchange certified carbon neutral

The Maldives Stock Exchange (MSE) has claimed it is the first in the world to become ‘carbon neutral’.

The MSE says it has worked to measure and offset emissions caused by its use of energy, waste disposal, business travel and staff commuting.

The stock exchange worked with offsetting company The CarbonNeutral Company to measure total greenhouse emissions and offset it through the purchase of carbon credits.

CEO of the MSE Ibrahim Nasir said that by adopting a leading environmental position within the financial services arena, “we hope to encourage listed companies within the stock exchange to also take action for the impact of their carbon emissions.”

President Mohamed Nasheed has said the entire country will be carbon neutral by 2020.


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 “It is outdated technology and has already been phased out in most western countries, and it is increasingly difficult to repair appliances that use it.”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.”


Rothschild banking dynasty to assist Maldives with goal of carbon neutrality

The Rothschild banking dynasty in Europe has agreed to help the Maldives towards its goal of carbon neutrality, following a meeting between President Mohamed Nasheed and Baron Benjamin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild in their Genevan chateau.

In the first phase of the agreement signed on Monday, the family’s financial services arm La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild (CTBR) will secure international financing to fund a carbon audit of the Maldives.

CTBR is one of the arms of the US$137 billion Edmond de Rothschild Group, one of the world’s oldest banking dynasties and an early investor in the Shell Oil Company and the De Beers diamond firm.

The Rothschild’s website describes the banking family as “brokers and financers, as bankers to royal houses and governments, as railway magnates, personalities, patrons and philantopists, the Rothschilds have never forgotten how to walk with Kings – nor lost the common touch.”

In the second phase of the agreement, the company’s environmental and sustainability wing, BeCitizen, will spend two months assessing the report and analysing emissions from all sectors of the country’s economy, including transport, housing ,tourism, energy and waste management.

The final report, expected at the end of 2010, will contain a detailed plan of how the Maldives can reach carbon neutrality by 2020. In the third phase, CTBR will then help the government secure international financing to build the wind farms, waste recycling plants and sustainable transport solutions suggested in the report.

Benjamin and Ariane de Rothschild said in a statement that the agreement between the family and the Maldivies “is not only important for reasons of moral leadership in tackling climate change – the greatest challenge facing the world today – but also because it places the Maldives at the head of the pack in the transition to a low-carbon world.

“The Edmond de Rothschild Group is convinced that, as well as helping Maldives becoming carbon neutral, the partnership will spur domestic economic growth and new revenue-generating business opportunities for the country,” the family said.

Presdient Mohamed Nasheed said the partnership would allow the Maldives to “make rapid inroads into our national carbon footprint”, and set an example for other developing countries.

“The Maldives wants to set an example, by demonstrating that a country can develop without having to pollute the planet. After all, it is not carbon we want but development, it is not coal we want but electricity, it is not oil we want but transport. The Maldives aims to grow but we want our growth to be green.”

Spokesman for the President Mohamed Zuhair said the project was a “win-win” and “won’t cost the Maldives money.”

“[Rothschilds] have financed other industrial revolutions, and for them the Maldives is an ideal partner for the green revolution,” he said.

Ali Rilwan, director of environmental NGO Bluepeace, meanwhile acknowledged the country’s need for a “carbon master plan” and said he did not believe the agreement with Rothschilds had strings attached.

Instead, the support of the banking dynasty could allow the Maldives to become a ‘proof-of-concept’ for carbon neutrality and alternate energy, he suggested.

“Carbon neutrality is very fashionable in Europe at the moment, along with corporate responsibility,” he said, “and the Maldives is the first to initiate [carbon neutrality] with such a short target. And as the country is small, the targets are achievable. The push to move main electricity from power stations to windmills is also encouraging.”

Rilwan explained that while the Maldives’ carbon emissions “are small on a global scale, we can set an example.”

“We won’t change the world’s climate but upmarket resorts are increasingly attracting toursists looking for green holidays. This will also help them,” he said.


Comment: To be saved or to let drown, that is the question

President Nasheed is away fighting valiantly to save the country from drowning, lobbying hard for aid and assistance from the developed West at Copenhagen.

At the time of writing, there is talk that Britain should open its borders to climate refugees from Bangladesh. Surely the Maldivians, too, would be glad to find some space in a UK asylum centre or two once the islands go under? Or would they?

The problem is, we are talking about Britain here – the great colonizer, who – according to Adhaalath – ‘enslaved’ the Maldivians for so long. And, as if 78 years of slavery was not enough, once it had granted the Maldives a ‘bogus’ form of independence in 1965, Britain and ‘they in the West’ have been waging a covert war to corrupt the hearts and minds of Maldivian youth with Western decadence and hedonism.

Surely Maldivians would not be accepting any assistance from these people of ‘the West’? I wonder how Adhaalath feels about the manner in which President Nasheed is back-stabbing his valuable political ally, making Faustian pacts with those evildoers. How ungrateful.

One wonders, too, what ‘the West’ would think if they knew what one part of the government, represented by the genial President Nasheed with his charm and show-stealing ideas for saving the world, really thinks of ‘them’.

Maldivian history, á lá Adhaalath

According to Adhaalath, the Maldives was a British colony from 1887 to 1965. The difference between being a colony and a protectorate may have been lost at sea.

The numerous countries that were colonised, whose identities were robbed, languages stolen, who were forcibly ‘civilised’, made victims of rape and pillage, who fought centuries-long wars of independence, against whom genocides were committed, and whose lands have been forcibly occupied by the ‘civilised settlers’ – they may feel a wee bit peeved at the loss of distinction between colony and protectorate.

But, let’s not be pedantic. Adhaalath says the Maldives was colonised, and not just by the British, but also ‘others’.

History has always been a bit murky in the Maldives. Take for instance the official narrative of how the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153 – the Infidel genie was (literally) put into a bottle by a visiting Moroccan Muslim scholar pretending to be a sacrificial virgin girl (don’t ask), and, voila! All Maldivians became 100 per cent Muslim overnight with no force, no blood shed, nothing.

Anyway, the other ‘colonisers’ that Adhaalath says enslaved the Maldives were individuals – an Andre Andre and a Raja with a double-barrel name. According to the dictionary, a colony is a country that is under the control of another country, not a wayward traveler (even if a Raja) or possibly the captain of a pirate ship (even if he sounds as good as Captain Jack Sparrow). But, never mind. Gratuitous pedantry can be unbecoming, and should be avoided.

The West, according to Adhaalath, once its colonies were lost, remained determined to infiltrate the beautiful Muslim world, with its strong community spirit, always living in peace bound by their strong faith in the Ummah.

You have to admit, you would be hard put to find a Muslim community in conflict in the twenty-first century.

This beautific Muslim world would have remained forever happy, if not for the stealthy shenanigans of the pseudo-intellectuals of the West. ‘They’, according to Adhaalath, have infiltrated Muslim societies such as the Maldives, luring the youth into materialism and philosophies of individualism through promises of education and progress.

Masking their jealousy and anger under benevolence, they have seduced Muslim youth with atheist and agnostic theories. This has been the ultimate goal of the West, their hidden agenda – the undermining of the firm religious belief that has been at the very core of the Muslim identity. This is the ‘neo-colonialism’ that the West now pursues, and it is aimed at Muslim youth.

Alas, the Maldivians have become easy victims, forgetting the beautiful ‘Islamic culture’ that made them Maldivians, forgetting centuries of tradition and culture.

Lost culture, or lost mind?

What is this ‘Islamic culture’ that Adhaalath accuses the West of stealing from the Maldives? Are they referring to the custom among Maldivian women that dictated they go topless until their first periods, no matter how old or how well endowed they became in the meantime?

According to the writings of the 14th Century Muslim explorer, Ibn Batuta, Maldivian women chose to ignore his criticism of the said custom when he came across it in his travels, and continued to practise it for many years after.

Dare it be said that in the ‘shameless’ West, women were literally swallowed up by cloth around the same time?

Perhaps Adhaalath is referring to the ‘Islamic culture’ of the free and fiery nature of Maldivian women much admired by Marco Polo in his travels? Or is it the ‘Islamic culture’ in which women reigned as queens for many years?

When Adhaalath says that the West has taught the Maldivian women – through the media – to sing and dance and expose themselves, are they referring to the women of the Thoddoo Badiyaa group and their ilk? Surely these pretty girls in their little pleated frocks and frizz-bomb hair did not learn how to powder their faces with white Cuticura and paint their lips with crepe paper from the West?

Hands up anyone who thinks that the dance moves of these women were learned from the West. Even the best of Top of the Pops did not figure a single move similar to the ones these ladies specialised in, waving their hair to the right and left so vigorously that one was afraid a head or two might fly lose at any time.

Or is the ‘Islamic culture’ that Adhaalath talks about the one that is reflected in the Maldivian women’s traditional clothing? You know, the dress with a neckline that plunges so deep that even Dolly Parton would blush, or the accompanying skirt that cannot even be bothered with stitching but wraps around the waist with a slit that goes up to the waistline itself?

Or is the ‘Islamic culture’ they want to protect the one where the Maldives once held the highest divorce rate in the world? Or the one where women ran after men going ‘Eid bolah gon’, accosting men from behind in a move that would have shocked even their ‘shameless’ Western contemporaries for its forwardness in pursuing potential husband material? Mr Darcy would never have been won with such unladylike displays.

Again, what ‘centuries of Islamic culture’, exactly, is it that the Maldives is losing because of the West?

Adhaalath is painting a false picture of a particular kind of ‘Islamic Maldives,’ that has never existed, then accuses the West of stealing it. The Maldives has been an Islamic nation for centuries, yes, but it has never had the culture that Adhaalath laments the loss of.

Rewriting history

Maldivians have practised and believed in the religion undisturbed, in their own way. Adhaalath wants the Maldives to forget whatever history that has been recorded, and pretend that Maldivians have been living the lives of some other people, following rules of a society and tradition these unassuming islanders have never before been familiar with.

Is the idea to get the Maldivian women to follow the ‘natural order’ of submissiveness while getting the men worked up about having a false identity stolen from them, and pitch them against ‘the West’ in an imaginary battle of civilizations that does not exist? These writings of Adhaalath are familiar and can be heard in the voices of those very same radical preachers who are recruiting vulnerable young people into a ‘war’ against an imagined enemy in the name of the ‘West’.

A Faustian Pact

Now, in the unlikely event that President Nasheed does manage to secure aid and other assistance from ‘the West’ to help save the Maldives from climate calamity, would Adhaalath be in favour of accepting the help?

Surely that would be hypocritical? Would it not be better to find a way to decamp to a burning hot desert somewhere where the women could keep their natural timidity and shyness intact under 500 yards of cloth, walk five steps behind her boss/husband, and breed in the safety of their tent while the man milks the camel while bravely battling the elements?

The children reared by the docile women and uncorrupted by the West can then go sacrifice themselves for the greater good in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.

The true Maldivian culture, the one that Maldivians did not know was theirs until it was revealed by Adhaalath, will then be able to blossom and bloom – finally letting Maldivians be independent, and free to be real Dhivehin.

It is becoming more and more clear that, yes, the chances are that the Maldives is destined to drown if it is not saved. What is harder to predict is which waters will sink it – the rising sea levels, or the ‘holy’ muck being used to brainwash its people.

Munirah Moosa is a journalism and international relations graduate. She is currently engaged in research into the ‘radicalisation’ of Muslim communities and its impact on international security.

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