Good Morning, Ambassador Butenis;
Good Morning, the Additional Secretary for Sri Lanka Power and Energy;
Good Morning, STELCO who has been instrumental in co-sponsoring the program;
Good Morning, USAID who has been instrumental for making this event a possibility;
Good Morning, the panel of experts and everyone present here.
We have a mission, we have an objective, we want to map out a low carbon development strategy.
First, this is not an environmental issue but also an economic issue. Both issues are very important to us; environment as well as our energy security and also the economic issues linked to that energy security issue.
To this end, we have done a carbon audit of the country, and we are in the process now of developing an investment plan to make the country carbon neutral. We believe that this is quite possible, that we will have a low carbon development strategy, that we will have a zero carbon emitting economy in the country within the next 10years.
Energy right now consumes a fair amount of our balance of payment, a fair amount of our foreign country dispersal. oil has always been very, very expensive, and especially with fluctuating oil prices, we have, in many instances, been brought to out knees simply because of energy issues.
This has happened many times, every time there is a shock to the oil trade, we end up taking the brunt of it and we end up going down many points in our development speed, in our development issues and patterns.
For this reason alone it is important that we succeed in our plans to become carbon neutral.
We are hopeful that this can be done.
For us to do that, we need to take two courses of action; one is to find suitable renewable energy sources, meanwhile with investment patterns and investment plans for implementing these suitable renewable energy sources as much as finding measures on energy saving.
Aslam has just pointed out on our plans to save energy through conservation.
Here is an excellent opportunity for us to tap upon and continue with our program to save more energy in our day to day lives. Energy saving while maintaining a good life is also very important for us and therefore what we are starting today is that much more important and relevant to us.
We want to become carbon neutral not just simply to be self sufficient in energy. We also want to say to the rest of the world that it is possible to have a low carbon development strategy.
We want to tell the big emitting countries that it is no longer necessary for us to be consuming fossil fuel simply in the name of development or even in the name of a good life.
We have been able to come up with a number of renewable energy sources and these sources are very readily available in the Maldives. We have a fair amount of sun, we have good wind, we have a good ocean all around us, and we feel that this is enough natural resources for us to fuel our economy and our development.
We are encouraged by a number of international organizations, a number of countries, friendly countries who are assisting us in our endeavour to become carbon neutral, and of course the US government has been in the forefront of encouraging us to become what we want to become which is carbon neutral.
South Asia is a fast developing region. It has a lot of very poor people. It has a lot of people without sufficient or any electricity. We have to provide them with electricity and energy. There is no alternative to that. We cannot even in the name of saving the world, be so unfair to the vast majority of very poor South Asians not providing them with electricity while we go on consuming, business as usual. This is totally unfair and it cannot be justified.
Therefore, it is for this reason, that it is important for us to find a low carbon development strategy. Very often I’ve been told that even if it works in the Maldives it will not work in bigger countries and bigger populations, which in my mind is a defeatist idea.
We have always gone against the odds and very often we have been able to succeed against the odds. I believe that we can still do it. If we can find a low carbon development strategy for 300,000 Maldivians, in my mind, it is simply a question of multiplication. All societies, all countries, big or small, have homes and families. If you can provide for one family and one home, it’s the same thing in India, it’s the same thing in China, Brazil and Indonesia.
It’s always a home, it’s always a family.
If we can find ways and means to provide for a family, a low carbon energy policy for families in South Asia, I am sure we would be able to use exactly the same patterns and devices as it works in the Maldives and therefore, it can work in India and it can work in South Asia.
We are pleased that you will be coming out with a road map on how the whole programme can work in South Asia.
I am glad to say that that we have done our programming. We have a program for this year, it is well budgeted. We have the finances and the funds. It is in our national budget.
We have been fortunate to have a three year programme budget, instead of a line budget. Therefore, we are in a situation to handle the issue much more comfortably than perhaps we would have been even last year.
It is an opportunity for us to have everyone here at this moment – I am sure, Aslam with all his knowledge and all our STELCO experts and electricity experts. We also have our science and technology advisor here, who has in fact have done a fair amount of work on this.
I believe we have a very good three days ahead of us. I am not so happy that I will not be here tomorrow, but I am able to travel a fair amount in the Maldives these days and I am always seeing people with electricity needs, especially lighting. I always have islanders coming up to me, telling me, asking us when the government will provide lighting, street lights for the island. Street lights have always consumed a fair amount of the government budget in small islands. Now if we are able to use this technology, if we are able to quickly transform ourselves, I am sure this is going to be an immense help to a number of people in the Maldive islands as well as South Asia.
Again please feel at home, please enjoy yourselves in the Maldives. It is very, very important to have a swim and enjoy yourselves while you are in the Maldives. You can have your conferences and your seminars, but please make sure you have a good time here.
Thank You Very Much.