The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean and consists of 1,192 islands. The Maldives is the smallest nation in Asia and also greatly threatened by rising seas due to having the lowest average land height of any other country. Despite its limited size, the nation is making major strides for the environment, recently announcing the entire nation would become the world’s largest marine reserve.
The Maldives is also striving to become carbon neutral by the year 2020. In addition, the Maldives is seeking to become the world’s first carbon neutral country. Currently the Maldives imports fossil fuels to power the nation, coming with a significant price tag and carbon footprint. However, the nation is seeking to attain sixty percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020, likely leaving the carbon neutral goal unmet unless carbon credits are purchased.
Solar will be the main renewable of choice for the nation, amounting to approximately fifty percent of the sixty. Biofuels and wind energy will likely to be used to meet the additional ten percent the nation now has targeted for renewables in 2020. Male will be receiving a two to three megawatt solar farm in coming years, with additional farms coming. While unlikely to meet carbon neutral goals, one popular resort in the nation is likely to be declared carbon neutral in 2013.
In order to assist in this great task of becoming carbon neutral and increasing the presence of renewables, the country is seeking to use tourism to raise funds. Tourism is a major source of income for the country, with approximately a million individuals coming to the islands from around the globe each year. Tourism accounts for a significant chunk of the economy, with figures estimating it is thirty percent but with others indicating it is more likely seventy-five due to limited alternative ways of adding to the economy.
Under the former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, the plan for becoming carbon neutral included a $3 tourism tax. But under the new president, Mohamed Waheed, the collection from tourists will become voluntary rather than a forced tax. Despite being voluntary, the president is hoping for millions of dollars to be raised for the carbon neutral fund. However, the nation already charges tourists for other projects ongoing, including one for their airport that puts tourists back $27.