The MID Vision

Last year’s ¬†public consultation exercise on the vision for Maurice Ile Durable has finally yielded its long overdue green paper. This is important because the government will use it to formulate a Common Shared Vision for MID and subsequent policy. The green paper proposes two visions and the Ministry of Environment has invited feedback on them by 8th May. What are your views and opinions?
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Say No! to coal

We believe that the construction of a new coal-fired power station would be a strategic mistake for Mauritius. Like other small island developing states (SIDS), Mauritius is vulnerable to climate change and especially sea level rise. Reputable scientists predict that sea levels will be 1m higher by 2100 and up to 6m higher beyond that. Such scenarios would be catastrophic for our nation.

For our very survival and that of fellow SIDS, Mauritius needs to become a leader in calling on developed and developing nations to reduce their CO2 emissions. How can we expect anyone to listen to us if we are building a coal-based power-station, the fuel that emits the largest amount of CO2 per unit of energy produced? We must set the example by showing that energy efficiency and renewables are economically viable alternatives to fossil fuels. If we do not then who will?

Mauritius is a relatively prosperous country whose Prime Minister has committed to becoming a sustainable island. We have the opportunity be a pioneer and a leader and not just another sheep following the crowd and chanting the mantra “coal is here to stay”. If we do not go against the flow and persuade others to join us then we will be consigning the future of our children’s children to a watery grave.

Various NGO’s support the proposal of CT Power to build a coal-fired power station in Mauritius. However, they appear to do so, not in the national interest, but because the main investor is a prominent Malaysian of Indian origin. Ironically, the Government of Malaysia has recently rejected plans to build a coal power station at Sabah on the island of Borneo on environmental grounds.

Greenpeace are calling on Facebook to commit to going green by Earth Day – April 22, 2011. Join the cause and unfriend coal.

In the national interest?

The decision to stop CT Power’s proposed coal-fired power station is to be reviewed. According to the press yesterday, the Prime Minister made this promise to representatives of the Tamil community during an event celebrating their New Year on Thursday. Another newspaper states that the Tamil Community feels “very deceived” by the decision. The tenuous link being that the family of the Malaysian promoter originated from Tamil Nadu. If such a project is in the national interest, then why was the announcement made before a specific community? Does this not stoke the fire of communal division?

Apparently, the Prime Minister believes that the original decision may have been manipulated since Mauritius “is a country of schemers” and that certain lobbies may have influenced the writers the Environmental Impact Assessment report “for their personal interests”. Does the environmental lobby have this level of influence or was he referring to the sugar estates which enjoy a monopoly of independent electricity generation? Much is said about democratising the economy, but if democracy means the “rule of the people, by the people, for the people”, then surely the first thing that needs democratising is our process of government? And if government officers have been unduly influenced then who will call them to account?

Tourism: Sounding the alarm

Are hotel operators finally beginning to question the wisdom of the Ministry of Tourism’s goal of 2 million visitors per year? As reported in the press yesterday, Beachcomber is warning against the industrialisation of the sector. Mauritius has always benefited from its image as an exclusive destination offering excellent customer service. The concern is that to increase numbers, we will have to sacrifice this niche by targeting the mass market where greater price sensitivity will require costs and hence quality to be reduced. But once our cachet is lost will high-end tourists be so attracted to our shores? What is the point of flooding our beaches with tourists who have less disposable income to spend in the local economy?