Scotland Maldives partnership


Scotland and the Maldives, one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels, are to sign a joint statement on co-operation at the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the initiative in Edinburgh today alongside the Maldives Envoy for Science and Technology Ahmed Moosa as he highlighted Scotland's climate change tartgets - to achieve a 42 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 - and said he would be pressing for a similarly ambitious global agreement.

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The FM will sign the statement on Tuesday with President Mohamed Nasheed who wants the Maldives to become the world's first carbon neutral country within the next decade.

Mr Salmond also announced that Europe's largest wind farm, Whitelee on Eaglesham Moor, has received planning approval to expand its capacity to 593 MW - enabling it to power 275,000 homes and support 200 jobs - with the local community receiving up to £350,000 every year from the extension to spend on projects.

He said:

"Scotland continues to lead the way in developing the technology and capacity - in renewables, in carbon capture, in energy efficiency measures - to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.

"The Whitelee extension underlines Scotland's place at the cutting edge of green energy and our comprehensive climate change framework, including the world-leading emission reduction targets of 42 per cent and 80 per cent by 2020 and 2050 respectively, and the pioneering carbon assessment of our 2010-11 budget, provide a lead to other governments.

"Yet even if the whole world adopted and implemented the same ambitious targets, climate change is now upon us and its damaging impact already witnessed across the world, including in the UK where we've seen the effects of increasing flooding.

"That's why this week Scotland became one of the first countries in the world to publish a Climate Change Adaptation Framework. Along with our plans to increase green energy capacity and cut emissions, our adaption plans can provide an exemplar to other nations on building resilience to the potential risks.

First Minister Alex Salmond with Maldives Envoy for Science and Technology Ahmed Moosa at Bute House in Edinburgh

"This will form part of our work with the Maldives, to transfer knowledge about the capacity building needed to respond to the huge challenges posed by the climate change around us. The world's nations can meet this challenge only by working together.

"President Nasheed deserves praise for the leadership he is showing to raise global awareness on Climate Change. We are delighted to help the Maldives in their endeavour to become the world's first carbon neutral country.

"Meeting the climate change challenge requires both bilateral initiatives such as the one which we will formally sign next week and also the kind of strong multi-lateral agreement that so many people across the world want to see emerge from the Copenhagen summit. What is clear is that the industrialised nations must agree targets that are both meaningful and binding. Anything short of that risks failing not just their own citizens, but those of the many developing nations most exposed to the destructive impact of climate change."

Mr Moosa said:

"Our ambition to become the first carbon neutral country in the world within 10 years will gain further momentum by this partnership. Leadership shown by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in tackling climate change should by emulated by other world leaders. This is a global problem and we must all unite unconditionally to solve it now before it's too late."

Mike Robinson, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, added:

"Nations only need to look to the example that Scotland has set - our Climate Act is a blueprint for the world to act quickly and fairly. And the First Minister's announcement today to work with President Nasheed of the Maldives is a great example of leadership in helping protect the most vulnerable. I hope it will inspire the EU and others to lift their game."

Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland, and board member of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, said:

"We share the frustrations of developing nations like the Maldives at the lack of movement by some of the world's richest countries on the issue of targets and finance. With just over a week left until these climate talks close we urgently need other industrialised countries to follow the lead set by Scotland in setting an emission reduction target of 42 per cent by 2020.

"Scotland's climate legislation is a great example at a time when the world desperately needs good examples. Even though Scotland has been denied the opportunity to be part of the official UK delegation, it really is great news that the First Minister will now be going to Copenhagen. This is the most important international meeting on climate change ever and Scotland's input could really help make a difference in increasingly deadlocked talks."

The Maldives is made up of nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean. None are more than 1.8 metres (six feet) above sea level, making the country vulnerable to a rise in sea levels associated with global warming.

The 322 MW Whitelee wind farm was granted permission in April 2006 and is now operational. A 130 MW extension to the Whitelee wind farm was approved in May 2009. Scottish Power applied for consent for Whitelee wind farm extension Phase 2. The proposed extension comprises 39 turbines with an installed capacity of up to 141 MW. The site area, approximately 3,000 hectares, is located immediately to the southwest of Whitelee wind farm, to the north of the Irvine Valley and northeast of Kilmarnock on Eaglesham Moor.

With the Phase 2 extension, Whitelee would be the largest onshore wind farm in Europe, with a total installed capacity up to 593 MW.

The 548 MW Clyde wind farm near Abington in South Lanarkshire will be the second largest onshore wind farm in Europe once completed and operational. East Ayrshire Council were supportive of the application.

East Renfrewshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council, as neighbouring planning authorities, also supported the application. Objections were received from seven individuals.

The Scottish Government's target is to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. There is 6.5 Gigawatts of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction around Scotland, taking Scotland beyond the interim target of 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables by 2011.

The Scottish Government's Energy Consents and Deployment Unit is currently processing 36 applications (24 onshore wind, 11 hydro and one thermal), amounting to 2.7 GW.

The Scottish Government has determined 32 energy applications, including approval for 27 renewable and one non-renewable project since May 2007 - more determinations than over the whole of the previous four years, in which 19 projects were determined.