At the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 leaders and
decision makers, from the Republic of Mauritius along with those from over
a hundred and fifty states, signed "The United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change". This instrument was designed to start the process
of controlling emissions of greenhouse gases so as to reduce global warming
and its resultant predicted sea level rise. The potential threats
and risks from climate changes, especially when combined with the already
existing environmental problems are of grave concern for the Republic of
Mauritius. The Republic of Mauritius is a member of the Small Island Developing
States (SIDS), and is conscious of the potential dangers related to climate
change. It had the honour of being the first nation to have ratified
the "UN Framework Convention on Climate Change" in September 1992, thus
binding itself to the terms of the Convention, when it came into force
in March 1994.
Under the Convention articles 4 and 12, all parties
are required to submit their Initial Communication three years after the
Convention came into force. Mauritius was scheduled to meet its commitment
by the year 1997 but since financial assistance was provided in the same
year, the limit was extended to 1998.
The ultimate objective of the Convention, and any
related legal instruments that the Conference of Parties (COP) may adopt,
is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere
at a level that would prevent "dangerous anthropogenic interference with
the climate system". Such a level should be achieved within such a time
frame that will allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change,
to ensure food production is not threatened and to enable sustainable economic
To promote refinement of future scenarios for climate
change and the transparent exchange of information, Parties to the Convention
are required to publish, update periodically and make available to the
COP their national inventories of sources of greenhouse gases and removals
by sinks. Comparable methodologies developed internationally and agreed
upon by the COP should be used. In addition to cooperation in research,
Parties are mandated to take climate change into account, to the
extent possible, in relevant future social, economic, and environmental
policies and actions.
Developing countries are viewed as potentially bearing
inequitable amounts of potential risks and costs from climate change; islands
and nations with low-lying coastal areas will be the front-line states,
as damages occur.
Preceding the political impetus to take action, the Mauritius Meteorological Services took the initiative in May 1990 to create a multi-sectoral National Climate Committee (NCC) involving all Institutions and Organizations with an interest in climate change which included relevant ministries, parastatal bodies, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The National Climate Committee, was formally established in June 1991 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister's Office with the Director of the Meteorological Services acting as co-chairperson and had the following objectives:
The NCC established four working groups and evaluated potential impacts of climate change on:
A fifth working group was established within the framework of the NCC, in January 1995, to collect all available information and prepare the National Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the year 1990.
Subsequent meetings resulted in the preparation of
recommendations for a Climate Change Action Plan that was submitted and
approved by the Government and published in November 1998.
FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT
The United States Country Studies Program (USCSP)
for Climate Change was established to assist and provide support over fifty
developing countries and countries with economies-in-transition. The objectives
were to build up endogenous competence for effective participation in climate
change decision-making, prepare national inventory of greenhouse gases
(GHGs), assess potential impacts, develop strategies for coping and elaborate
those schemes into a Climate Change Action Plan. Between 1995 and 1997
the United States Country Studies Program provided funding to assist the
Government of the Republic of Mauritius to accomplish these tasks.
Studies conducted within this project are listed below:
Mauritius is also one amongst the eight countries identified and funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to carry out "case studies" for determining the economic and development implications of greenhouse gas limitation. A full analysis of possible mitigation measures and calculations of their cost-effectiveness is being done under the umbrella of this study.
Under the project "GF/2200-97-42 Mauritius: "Enabling
Activities for the preparation of Initial National Communication related
to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)", the Republic
of Mauritius was provided with additional financial support by the Global
Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP), its implementing agency, to complete its National Initial Communication.
The Republic of Mauritius, a group of islands of
volcanic origin, has a population of over 1.1 million for an area of about
2000 km2. About 46% of its area is agricultural,
31% constitutes forests, shrubs and grazing land while the remaining 23%
is devoted to settlements, infrastructure and inland water resource systems.
The country enjoys a mild maritime climate with summer extending from November
to April and winter from June to September. Mauritius, the main island,
receives an annual average rainfall of 2100 mm, with about 70% occurring
in summer. Mean maximum temperature peaks to about 31º C in the
coastal areas in summer while mean minimum temperature goes down to about
14º C over the high grounds in winter.
Mauritius was classified among the uppermiddle income
countries with a per capita income of US$ 3442 in 1995 and Human Development
Index of 0.831. The agricultural sector accounted for 9.5% of GDP while
the share of the manufacturing and quatenary sectors stood at 23.7% and
11% respectively. For the same year, the tourism sector represented some
15% of total foreign exchange earnings.
The country depends on imported energy carriers and
in 1995, petroleum products accounted for 58.2% of total primary energy,
coal for 4.8% while the share from renewable sources were 37%. Final energy
consumption was 758 000 Tonnes Oil Equivalent (TOE).
The inventory of greenhouse gases (GHG) has been
calculated on the basis of 1995 data, which closely resembled the 1994
figures and is more reliable. More than 95% of total emissions originated
from energy production, transportation and manufacturing industries. The
per capita Carbon emission was 0.434
|1. Fuel combustion activities||1736.852||0.511||0.040||9.808||67.003||7.755||13.369|
|- Energy industries||655.575||0.044||0.009||1.959||7.629||0.076||8.795|
|- Manufacturing industries and construction||277.655||0.151||0.021||1.224||18.442||0.260||2.942|
|- Other sectors||148.389||0.289||0.005||0.164||4.749||0.570||0.094|
|- Other lubricants||10.256||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL|
|2. Industrial processes||1.580||NIL||0.279||0.372||NIL||7.726||NIL|
|3. Solvent and other product use||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|5. Land use change and forestry||-221.360||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL||NIL|
|7. Other (international
Summary of GHG emissions (Gg), for Mauritius in 1995
Total energy requirements will be around 1.5 M TOE out of which 3500 - 4000 GWh electricity will be produced. Carbon dioxide emissions are projected to be around 6 x 106 tonnes. Measures identified to reduce GHG emissions include:
NEEDS FOR FURTHER TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
One result of the assessment work conducted in Mauritius so far points out to the need for further investigation, research and analysis, as well as for technical training and transfer of environmentally friendly technologies from developed countries. Some funding will be made available through the United Nations under the Convention through the Global Environmental Facility, but other bilateral and multilateral sources must be tapped, both regionally and internationally. Specific areas, which need further attention and skilled personnel, include:
The vulnerability of key socio-economic sectors has been assessed and adaptation measures identified and evaluated. Incremental and climate change scenarios created from General Circulation Model outputs (GCM) and available meteorological data were used for the assessment. The accelerated sea-level rise projections adopted were 0.5, 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 m.
The degree of vulnerability of the different sectors
is very variable with the two most vulnerable being the coastal zone and
the agricultural sectors. Accelerated sea-level rise is expected to result
in land loss, beach erosion, damages to coastal infrastructure, degradation
of coral reefs and loss of wetlands. Agricultural production will be affected
through higher climate variability and extreme weather events with changes
in crop development and phenology, more competition from weeds, higher
incidence of pests and diseases and indirectly from availability of water
resources and changes in soil physical and chemical properties. Coastal
agriculture could be affected by land degradation. The risk of intrusion
of salt water in coastal acquirers exists. Increased sea surface temperature,
changes in nutrient availability, weather patterns, thermocline depth and
warming of ocean basins will affect the fisheries industry. Some negative
effects on the health and well being of the population are expected. Biodiversity
will change with the possible loss of some species.
The country, due to constraints associated to small
island states cannot adopt all identified adaptive measures. Some of these
measures will be onerous with serious consequences on the economy of the
country. Retreat and abandonment options to safeguard coastal resources
are not applicable. Hence the protection and accommodation options would
be more appropriate. Adaptation within the agricultural sector will come
through changes in management and infrastructure rather than changes in
land use. Adaptation measures for water resources are better management
and the use of "gray" water. The best option for forestry and biodiversity
is a closer monitoring to prevent further degradation of the situation.
The present network of systematic observation and
research comprises data collection and studies on the impacts of climate
change on namely agriculture, energy policy and coastal zone. The need
for more in-depth research is highlighted and the institutions involved
are listed. Data collection and management need to be reviewed so as to
improve on-going studies and to enable more comprehensive research and
analysis. Capacity building is essential and need to be encouraged so as
to ensure the continuity of climate change activities.
Formal and informal education and training are current
tools used to raise awareness of the entire population on climate change
issues and its possible effects. Informal education consists of discussions,
debates, public talks and research seminars. Posters, pamphlets, newsletters
and technical papers are issued on an ad-hoc basis. Special consideration
to the female population, who is the focal points of families in the educational
processes, is highlighted. Climate change has yet to be included in the
curricula of the formal education system.
The population of the Republic of Mauritius is projected
at 1.37 million by 2020 with a well-qualified, highly skilled work force,
which would be enterprising and productive. The population would enjoy
a higher GDP; three times that of 1995.
Analyses indicate that a cautious way to deal with climate change is through a portfolio of activities. Targeted response measures fall into three distinct categories:
It is important that policy-makers support continuous collection of data and the establishment of monitoring programs. Taking no actions, delaying them becomes a decision in itself, with costs multiplied in terms of future natural disasters such as an increase in cyclones and droughts, flood damages from storm surges, and a variety of other potential hazards resulting from climate change.