Say NO! to coal – And yes to what?

“BLACKOUTS!” This is the threat that some quarters are using to argue the case for more coal-fired electricity production, i.e. CT Power. Environmentalists and local residents are protesting against this but have yet to present viable alternatives. What is the real situation and do we have other options? Continue reading


Electric Vehicles: Green Leaf vs. Black Coal

During MID week at the University of Mauritius in March 2009, Nissan presented its plan for our island to be the 7th nation in the world where the Leaf, their new electric car, would be available for sale. In February 2012, we became the first country in the southern hemisphere to have the vehicles delivered, so why does it appear that we might be the last place on earth where one is actually sold? Some say this is because the government cannot determine what import duty to levy on each car, but might this apparent confusion actually be the fruit of incoherent policies? Continue reading

Old King Coal

Few countries are at greater risk from man-made climate change than Mauritius. The Maldives may be more dependent on their beaches and Bangladesh on its agricultural land, but can we afford to lose either? Low lying countries and island states are quite rightly joining their voices this week at Rio+20 to call for global agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions. So why is our government undermining the cause by repeatedly declaring its commitment to coal? Continue reading

Honda’s stepping stones to sustainability

Quite intriguingly, Honda chose the redundant sugar factory –  l’Aventure du Sucre – as the venue to launch three hybrid cars in Mauritius. This excellent museum portrays, in graphic detail, the inhuman exploitation of good people of colour by the “then” racist Franco-Mauritian elite. We attended to publicly ridicule the hybrid green-wash propaganda but were pleasantly surprised…

First, because our sparring partner from Yale, and arch supporter of the hybrid deception, Vedant Seeam was guest of honour. Second, because Mr Yoshiaki Nakamura had the perfect repost to our katana-like critique. In his presentation, the President of Honda Motor Southern Africa declared that Honda is committed to an avergage 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from its vehicles by 2020. How on earth did he expect hybrids to achieve that? we asked. He replied that hybrids are but a stepping stone to fossil-fuel free transport, whether it be all electric or hydrogen. Respect sir! Continue reading

The Mauritian Miracle – then and now

Dear Professor Stiglitz

Sorry for taking so long to respond to your op-ed on Mauritius. Like many of your academic predecessors, the brevity of your visit earlier this year prevented you looking into the details of the state and history of Mauritius. Please permit me to fill some in.

Although free, universal education was introduced in 1976 in response to student protests, decent education is no longer free in Mauritius. Those who “have” send their children to private schools and those who “have less” pay for private tuition after school and at weekends. The children of those who “have nothing” are severely disadvantaged. Moreover, state tertiary education is largely failing to prepare students for work in call centres so forget about advanced technology.

The same is true of “universal” free, healthcare: those who “have” go to private hospitals, those who “have less” attend private surgeries and purchase medicines from pharmacies, avoiding, like the plague, the state run hospitals and their dubiously sourced pills for those who “have nothing”. For those who need expensive treatment overseas, there is a national lottery. Continue reading

Feedback on MID reports

To the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

We are delighted to provide feedback on the reports of the Working Groups for the MID policy development and indeed privileged to be part of the one on energy. Overall, we are happy with much of the work done so far and the comments below focus on exceptions to this. We also attempt to address some of the important issues we feel are missing from the reports and try to synthesise conflicting recommendations. After suggesting improvements to the MID process, we will turn to the security of the economy, nutrition, electricity and transport and then land use conflicts and nutrient recycling. Finally, we comment on individual recommendations that we consider notable. Continue reading

The politics of renewable energy

Dr Pradeep Mahesh Kumar Soonarane, Deputy Director Technical Services at the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, made an emphatic statement last week at the launch of the National Energy Research Group, insisting it was recorded in the minutes for posterity:

Mauritius will never have 100% renewable energy

We immediately challenged him, referring to our own scenario for energy self sufficiency. He replied that the future would prove him right.

Dr Soonarane cannot be correct because when fossil fuels are exhausted renewable energies will be the only ones left (along with nuclear for a while). Moreover his statement is not technically accurate as we have demonstrated. We are therefore led to conclude that his statement is a political one and that the government is, for some reason, committed to fossil fuels. Whether this is connected to “commissions” received for signing contracts for fuel supplies, we can only speculate…