New Caledonia is on a path to be among the top contributors of CO2 per capita per annum in the world, the New Caledonian Head of Government Harold Martin, was advised in a letter issued yesterday.
The letter, issued by CI and WWF advised that New Caledonia’s emissions will rise to 36.8 tons per capita per annum in coming years, an increase of over 165% in less than ten years - since 2004 when this numbered 13.7 tons. This increase is due to the development of new mining and metal extraction projects. These include New Caledonia - Koniambo Nickel SAS /Xstrata in Northern New Caledonia, Vale in Southern New Caledonia, and the forecast emissions from the recently announced coal power plant of Societe Le Nickel /Eramet.
This comes at a time when the world is focused on climate change. As noted in theletter to the Head of Government, although international commitments are being made towards reducing CO2 emissions, "decarbonizing" the New Caledonian economy is a priority , ‘in a future where emissions permits will inevitably be required.’
For New Caledonia, located in the Pacific Ocean, climate change - a widely acceptedresult of increased CO2 emissions - is of high concern as this region is already directly affected by rising sea levels and an increase in severe weather events. Just months ago, nearby Fiji and Samoa suffered their worst cyclone in decades, resulting in a loss of life and causing millions of dollars of damage to their infrastructure and economies.
Positively, in recent years sustainability has been a focus in New Caledonia, with experts and government working together to consider energy development. In 2008 various groups came together at the request of the New Caledonian Government to discuss and make recommendations that deal with the challenges of energy security, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and regional integration. CI and WWF encourage more of this collaborative effort and hope that these efforts will lead to greener choices towards the development
of a healthy sustainable economy and society that will benefit current and future generations of New Caledonians.
The letter states, ‘In 2013, in an international context of financial crisis, economic crisis, social crisis, environmental crisis, New Caledonia is at a crossroads for its development choices…. Energy choices that are made at this time involve us all: not only communities and businesses, but all citizens for many decades to come’.
The letter asks of the Head of Government that New Caledonia raises awareness among policy makers and the public regarding the importance of reducing energy consumption, and develops an Energy and Climate Scheme for civil society that integrates the philosophy of "Negawatt". The NGO’s also ask that a feasibility study be conducted regarding the energy choices of the announced Societe Le Nickel /Eramet coal power plant, that a general review of energy consumption in New Caledonia is carried out to encourage more sustainable industrial projects.