Greenhouse gas reduction agreement approved by parliament

Parliament on Monday approved the ratification of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to reduce the global production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The Maldives’ accession was endorsed with 28 votes in favour from the 85-member house. After boycotting debate and voting on a supplementary budget last month, opposition lawmakers resumed protesting in the chamber.

Standing behind a five-foot wall erected during the recess, about 10 opposition MPs clamoured for the resignation of Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, who paid no heed to the disorder and continued proceedings.

A debate and vote on ratifying the Kigali amendment, as recommended by the national security committee, was the only item on the agenda. The sitting was over in less than 15 minutes.

The Montreal Protocol was designed to reduce the production and consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer, a natural shield that guards against harmful ultraviolet rays. The protocol entered into force on January 1, 1989.

In October last year, parties to the protocol reached a legally binding deal in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase down the production and use of HFCs, which are man-made chemicals used in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation. The powerful greenhouse gases can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.

The parties hope to reduce emissions and prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century.

On the advice of the environment ministry, President Abdulla Yameen decided to join the Kigali amendment after cabinet deliberations on October 11.

The constitution requires parliamentary approval for “treaties entered into by the executive in the name of the state with foreign states and international organisations.”

In April last year, the Maldives became only the fourth nation to sign the historic Paris climate change agreement after pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent before 2030 by switching to renewable sources of energy.

The 10 percent target fell far short of ambitious plans announced by former President Mohamed Nasheed in early 2009 for the Maldives to become carbon neutral by 2020, which has since been scrapped by successive administrations.

The current administration has also been criticised for oil exploration and pursuing environmentally-suspect mass tourism and mega-development projects.


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