Male, Feb 17 (IANS) The Maldives has pledged to phase out by 2020 a group of chemicals which thin out the earth's ozone layer and warm the atmosphere, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The phase-out will be 20 years ahead of what all countries have to do under an international protocol.
Hailing the decision to phase out hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs), a UNEP spokesperson said here Wednesday that it was in line with the country's pledge to go carbon neutral by 2020 to help battle climate change.
A number of scientists has warned that if nothing is done to reduce global carbon emissions, the archipelago that makes up the Maldives will soon sink beneath the rising sea.
Announcing the decision, President Mohamed Nasheed said: 'You cannot cut a deal with mother nature. And we don't intend to try. This is why, in March 2009, the Maldives announced plans to become the first carbon neutral country in the world.'
'I believe in mankind's infinite capacity for innovation and change. New technologies allow us to both develop and maintain a healthy environment. Countries, and companies, that choose to lead this change, will be the winners of this century. We are not part of the problem, but we would like to part of the solution by deploying innovative technologies and policies,' he added.
HCFCs and their cousins, HFCs, were created in the 1980s as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) for use in refrigeration, including air-conditioning units, refrigerators and a wide variety of manufacturing processes.
HCFCs not only destroy the stratospheric ozone layer which is essential to life on Earth but also contributes to climate change. In 2007, the international community decided phase out HCFCs by 2040, as part of the Montreal Protocol meant to protect the ozone layer.
In the Maldives, HCFCs are used in nearly 100 tourist resorts spread over more than 1,000 islands.
'Our decision to phase out HCFCs and our declaration to go carbon neutral by 2020 will demonstrate to the world our determination to save the planet for humanity. Small island states can also be at the frontline in the battle to save the planet,' said Minister of Housing, Transport and Environment Mohamed Aslam.