Maurice Ile Durable struggles as island burns more coal; uses less renewables
In 2013, 440.6 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) of coal were burnt by power plants against 418.4 ktoe in the previous year while renewable energy use actually dipped 1.26% from 222.3 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) in 2012 to 219.5 ktoe in 2013, according to data from Statistics Mauritius. (Image: Invest Mauritius)
In spite of the island’s commitment to the Maurice Ile Durable (MID) project, Mauritius continues to burn more and more coal for energy production while renewable energy consumption actually declined in 2013, albeit marginally.
Statistics Mauritius showed in its latest publication on environment for 2013 that 440.6 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) of coal were burnt by power plants in 2013 against 418.4 ktoe in the previous year while renewable energy use actually dipped 1.26% from 222.3 kilo tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) in 2012 to 219.5 ktoe in 2013.
And, this reduction in renewables use took place even as total primary energy requirement rose by 1.9% to 1,455 ktoe in 2013.
Additionally, Mauritius continues to face increasing pollution with a 2.6% rise in Net Carbon Dioxide (CO2) to 3.54 million tonnes in 2013.
The energy sector contributed around 62% of the CO2 emissions, while transport industries and manufacturing industries were other contributors to air pollution with 25% and 8% respectively.
Even though energy is vital for economic development and households, its production and consumption releases greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide forms the main component.
Besides, solid waste, which is difficult to decompose, increased by 10.8% in 2013.
The Mare Chicose landfill centre in the South of the island consisted of around 429,935 tonnes of solid waste in 2013, compared to 387,926 tonnes in 2012.
Another negative sign for the environment is deforestation, which the island is steadily facing as the total forest area declined by 35 hectares from 47,143 hectares in 2012 to 47,108 hectares in 2013.
Statistics Mauritius noted that some 47% (22,108 hectares) of the total forest area in 2013 was state-owned and the remaining 53% (25,000 hectares) was privately-owned.
Also, the land occupied by sugarcane, tea plantations and forestry decreased mainly at the expense of built up areas.
The area under sugar cane cultivation harvested decreased by 0.5% to 53,871 hectares in 2013 as well as only 2 hectares under tobacco cultivation was harvested compared to 173 hectares in 2012.
This significant decrease in tobacco cultivation is because all flue-cured growers stopped planting as from second season of the 2012-2013 crop, given that the activity will altogether cease in 2015.
Additionally, the area under tea cultivation in 2013 increased by 0.4% to 672 hectares compared to 669 hectares in 2012.
Statistics Mauritius also drew attention to the intensive use of chemical based fertilisers and other agro-chemicals that may contribute to the pollution of the environment through the leaching of nitrate to ground water.
Here, there was a positive trend in fertilisers as their import went down by 12.9% to 45,924 tonnes in 2013. However, import of pesticides grew 7.7% to 2,185 tonnes in 2013.
Coming to water, Mauritius received 3,821 million cubic metres (Mm3) of rainfall in 2013, which is 27.3% higher than in 2012 when 3,001 Mm3 of rainfall were received.
Data showed an increase of 11% in water utilisation, from 800 Mm3 in 2012 to 888 Mm3 in 2013 mainly due to increase in domestic, industrial and tourism (7.4%); hydropower (28.4%); and agricultural (2.7%).
The agricultural sector accounted for 375 Mm3 of the water utilised, hydropower 280 Mm3, and domestic, industrial and tourism sector 233 Mm3.
Meanwhile, it may be noted that the draft Green Economy Action Plan (GEAP) 2015-2024 was discussed at a meeting in July to demonstrate the island’s commitment to sustainable development under the MID project.
The GEAP focuses on seven crucial sectors, namely, transport, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, waste, energy as well as water, and proposes steps and actions that Mauritius must undertake to transform its economy towards an inclusive and green one.