(BN) Maldives May Consider Tax on Tourists to Cut CO2 (Update1)


Maldives May Consider Tax on Tourists to Cut CO2 (Update1)
2010-11-24 16:20:13.886 GMT

(Adds greenhouse gases record in fifth paragraph.)

By Alex Morales
Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The Maldives, a country threatened
by climate change, should consider taxing wealthy tourists at
its resorts to help pay for measures to make the island-nation
carbon-neutral, a report for the government said.
Wind and solar power, energy-efficiency measures and buying
international carbon offsets may be needed to cut net emissions
for the low-lying country in the Indian Ocean to zero by 2020,
BeCitizen, an environmental consultant owned by the risk manager
La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild, said today in the study.
Maldives emissions may double by 2020 under a business-as-
usual scenario, according to the study, a carbon audit funded by
the Rothschild family that was the first step in President
Mohamed Nasheed's pledge to make his nation carbon-neutral by
2020. A wider report on how to achieve the goal is due by 2011,
with the tourist tax a potential source of funds.
"It's very important for us to use the resources we have,
the sun, the wind and the sea, to harness them," Nasheed said
today from the capital, Male, in a news conference broadcast on
the Internet. "In the Maldives, climate change is a real issue.
Already we have more than 20 islands that have serious erosion
issues and 50 with water contamination due to sea level rise."
The UN's World Meteorological Organization said today that
concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, the
main man-made greenhouse gases blamed for global warming,
increased to records in the post-industrial era last year.
Higher temperatures cause warmer seas to expand and waters to
rise from melting glaciers and ice fields.

Big Emitters

Nasheed plans for his environmental push to prove to big
emitters such as the U.S. and China, which account for about 40
percent of the global total, that low-carbon development is
possible. He's also aiming to slash his nation's dependence on
imported fossil fuels, which currently cost the country $200
million a year, or about 15 percent of its economic output.
"Any fluctuation in world fuel prices has a very
substantial effect on the people of the Maldives," Nasheed
The Maldives, which at its highest is three meters (10
feet) above sea level, is part of an alliance of island nations
pressing envoys at United Nations climate change talks to take
measures that ensure global temperatures rise by less than 1.5
degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) since industrialization. Sea
levels may rise by 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) by 2100
as a result of warming temperatures, the UN said in 2007.
The UN talks, which resume next week in Cancun, Mexico,
have been beset by squabbles between developed and developing
nations over the scale and pace of emissions reductions and
whether pledges should be legally binding.

International Flights

Emissions in the Maldives totaled 1.3 million tons of
carbon dioxide in 2009, or 0.003 percent of the global total,
according to today's report, the first assessment of the
country's greenhouse gases since a 2001 study that used 1994
data. Emissions may rise to 2.5 million tons by 2020, it said.
International flights to and from the Maldives are responsible
for another 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, the study said.
The Maldives receives about 650,000 tourists per year, and
the tourism sector accounts for about 36 percent of national
emissions, without including international flights, according to
the report. The country's 97 resorts, projected to increase to
158 in 2020, will have to make an "important effort" as part
of the national plan for two reasons, according to the study.
"First, they represent a very large part of the country's
emissions," the report's authors wrote. "Second, their clients
are often rich and could provide international eco-funding
through a tax system on the bed-night price."
International aid and private investment are other possible
sources of funds, according to the report's authors, who said
laws and building regulations should be passed to establish
clear guidelines for cutting carbon.

Solar Panels, Turbines

Roof-mounted solar panels, small wind turbines and island-
based anaerobic digestion plants are among technologies that
will be "key" to the plan, according to today's report. Other
measures mentioned include using solar-powered ferries,
encouraging cycling in Male and tapping waste for energy from
the gases it produces and fertilizer.
"These would be new investments," Nasheed said. "Why
should we depend on yesterday's obsolete technologies?"
As a developing country, the Maldives currently has no
international requirement to slash its carbon emissions. The
existing climate-protection treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, binds
all developed nations except the U.S., which never ratified it,
to cut greenhouse-gas output by about 5 percent from 1990 levels
for the average of the five years through 2012.
Nasheed requested a full report by Paris-based BeCitizen
and La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild to outline the best
measures for cutting carbon and to detail how the private sector
and international donors can be tapped to fund the transition.
Geneva-based La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild, part of
the Edmond de Rothschild group, didn't disclose the cost of
today's carbon audit.

For Related News and Information:
Climate-change stories: NI CLIMATE <GO>
Top environment page: GREEN <GO>
Most-read environmental news: MNI ENV <GO>
More alternative energy stories: NI ALTNRG <GO>

--Editors: Randall Hackley, Todd White

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in London at +44-20-7330-7718 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or landberg@bloomberg.net.