Deepening National Responses to Climate Change On The Basis of Ethics and Justice:
The case of Republic Of Mauritius

Mrs Dreepaul V. –Agricultural Planning Officer
Mr Poovathal M.- Senior Agricultural Analyst
Ministry Of Agro Industry and Food Security

This paper presents the findings of the research questions of the Project on Deepening National Responses to Climate Change On The Basis of Ethics and Justice, a joint project of the University of Auckland, School of Architecture and Planning and Widener University, School of Law, Environmental Law Center. The researchers have as far as possible be practicable and involved all the relevant stake holders during fact finding and data collection. Mauritius being a very small country has its own limitations however, we have tried to answer all the questions honestly and thoroughly, with relevance to the Republic of Mauritius.


The Republic of Mauritius consists of the main island, Mauritius and the Outer Islands namely, Rodrigues, Cargados Carajos Archipelago (known as St Brandon) and Agalega Islands. The total land area of the Republic is 2 040 km2; the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of about 1.9 million km2. The main island, Mauritius enjoys a mild tropical maritime climate throughout the year and has two seasons namely; a warm humid summer extending from November to April and a relatively cool dry winter from June to September. The months of October and May are commonly known as the transition months. The mean maximum temperature reaches 29.2°C during the summer months when tropical cyclones occur. The coolest months are July and August when average minimum temperatures drop to 16.4°C. Rainfall ranges from about 4 000mm on the Central Plateau to about 800mm along the coast. The Outer Islands enjoy more or less a similar climate, the main difference being in the rainfall amount which has a high degree of variability.

The Republic Of Mauritius (henceforce Mauritius) is an upper middle income country with a population of 1.3 million people and emits about 5010.29 thousand tonnes of Green House Gas (GHG) in the atmosphere (Statistics Mauritius, 2012). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2012 was US$10.492 billion and there is no situation of extreme poverty as defined by the United Nation definition (US$ 1.0 per day or US$ 1.25 in PPP terms). The Mauritian economy has transformed from a mono crop economy dependent on sugar cane to a vibrant diversified economy with textile industry, tourism, financial services and more recently a burgeoning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Various policies have been implemented at national level to respond to economic and environmental shocks. Mauritius is a party to the UNFCC and has signed various conventions and protocols for reducing ghg emissions such as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992), Kyoto Protocol (1997) Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985) , Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987) and African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba treaty, 1996). Mauritius has been ranked at the 6th place for the Environmental Performance Index 2010 at the World Economic Forum with an EPI score of 80.6.

GHG emission has followed an upward trend since industrialization and the main GHG emitted is carbon dioxide (CO2), which arises from the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity production, industrial processes and transport. Figure 1 shows the GHG emission trend from 2004 to 2012 and there has been an increase of 25.3 percent from 2004 to 2012. Land use changes, agricultural practices and waste also generate GHGs such as methane and nitrous oxides. Since the publication of the Initial National Communication by the National Climate Committee in 1999, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are inventoried along with other gases such as: oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and sulphur dioxide, which indirectly contribute to global warming. The steadily growing population, increasing consumption and production patterns, rising trade in goods and services, sustained industrial development, expansion of the economy and increased mobility, all stimulate energy and transport demands, which are in fact the main drivers of emissions into the atmosphere.

Figure 1: GHG Emission from 2004 to 2012

maritius chart

Source: Digest of Environment Statistics, 2012

1. To what extent has the national debate about how the nation should respond to climate change by setting a ghg emissions reduction target expressly considered that the nation not only has economic interests in setting the target but also ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable to climate change and that any national ghg emission reduction target must represent the nation’s fair share of safe global emissions. In answering this question, identify the national ghg emissions reduction target, if any, that the nation has made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Mauritius has a strong commitment to have a Clean, Green and pollution-free Mauritius and does not have any specific emission reduction target but commits itself to reduce GHG emission as at date. With the support of UNEP, the Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development is in process of preparing the Third National Communication and its National Inventory Report in line with UNFCCC and will include national ghg emission reduction target. On 5 September 2013, Mauritius has deposited its Instrument of Acceptance on the amendment to the Kyoto Protocol with the Secretary General of the United Nations and is the third country to have done so.

Mauritius is among the first countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in September 1992 and acceded to the Kyoto Protocol on 9 May 2001. It is a non-annex 1 party and signatory to the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. Currently total GHG emissions is about 5010.29 thousand tonnes and the country has endorsed international agreements on environmental protection and has always aimed to translate these global commitments into national policies, strategies and actions (Digest of Environment Statistics, 2013).
The Maurice Ile Durable (MID) fund was set up in 2009 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister’s Office with a vision that seeks to transform the environmental, economic and social landscape of Mauritius. So far, to our knowledge debate has not yet occurred on setting up ghg emission target because it is observed that the volume of GHG emission is low, but under the Maurice Ile Durable Fund, the following targets have been identified:

• Energy
 Achieve the national target of 35% renewable energy by 2025 which is currently 17%.
 Reduce energy consumption in non-residential and public sector buildings by 10% by 2020.
• Environment
 Meet the environmental sustainability targets of the Millennium Development Goals.
 Reduce the ecological footprint to be in the upper quartile of performance of similar income nations, by 2020.
• Employment/Economy
 Increase the percentage of green jobs, from 6.3% in 2010, to 10% by 2020.
 Maintain or improve position in the World Economic Forum’s International Competitiveness Index.
• Education
 Achieve 100% MID literacy by 2020.
 Be an internationally recognized knowledge hub for sustainable development in the region by 2020.
• Equity
 Improve the position of the Republic of Mauritius in the World Poverty Index.
 Improve current status in the Gini coefficient (This coefficient represents the income distribution of a nation’s residents).

Mauritius adopted a ‘top down, bottom up’ approach to policy making and the process is initiated and led by highest levels of government, policy formulation will make ample provision for the incorporation of ground level agendas and realities. While setting up the targets, people-centred approaches as well as a multi-stakeholder process were adopted. Undeniably, consultation with the stakeholders has been pivotal to open up debates to new ideas and also enable problems, and needs to be expressed with a view to reach understanding and consensus. While setting these targets various debates and consultations have taken place at Parliament, Ministers Meetings, Cabinet Decisions, Senior Officials, Workshops, Private Sectors, Research Organisations, NGO’s, Women and Youth, Trade Unions including Rodrigues and the Outer Islands. The Republic Mauritius acknowledges that these targets have both economic interest and also ethical obligations to the vulnerable people of Mauritius and other states in the Indian Ocean.

2. In making a national commitment to reduce ghg emissions under the UNFCCC, to what extent, if at all, has the nation explained how it took equity and justice into consideration in setting its ghg emissions reduction target.

In order to come up with the above MID targets, there was a national awareness campaign, sensitizing the population on making Mauritius a sustainable development model and a participatory approach was adopted to elaborate on a national strategy for sustainable development, aiming to take on board the aspirations of the whole society in order to create a strong sense of belonging to the nation. At the heart of policy making is consultation with civil society. A wide National Consultation Process (NCP) was launched in February 2010 with the aim to come up with a Green Paper, elaborating and embodying the needs and aspirations of Mauritian and to develop a National Vision on MID.
The consultative meetings comprised of:

a. open public meetings,
b. special interest groups meetings,
c. meetings with district councils and local government,
d. consultation with the various Ministries.

The open public meetings were moderated by the General Facilitator and were held in municipalities and districts councils. The outcome of each public meeting was to express a set of concerns, opportunities, views and other input by the participants in the meeting, and a Draft Vision was constructed at the meeting and agreed upon by the participants.

The special interest group meetings consisted of stakeholders who share common concerns. There was one for the tourism industry, private sector business, women’s groups, NGOs, youth organizations, fishers, etc. In addition to the above meetings, there was a nationwide involvement of primary and secondary schools.

Based on the aspirations of the public, a National MID Vision was prepared and adopted by Cabinet of Ministers in June 2011. The National MID Vision caters for the 5Es of MID and it has as main objective to make Mauritius a model of sustainable development.

To further consolidate the MID process, wide national consultations were held with various stakeholders through the organization of over 25 consultative workshops. Some 300 participants from Ministries, Semi-Governmental Organisations(Parastatal Bodies), Private Sector, Trade Unions, NGO’s and the Civil Society were involved in this consultative process, including Rodrigues and the Outer Islands.

Six thematic Working Groups were set out to work out on the following themes, covering the 5Es of MID, namely Energy, Environment-Biodiversity, Environment-Pollution, Education, Employment and Equity. The working groups comprised of a balanced representation of members from Government, NGO’s, Trade Unions, Women and Youth, Private Sector and Persons knowledgeable in the field. The Working Groups took into consideration the National MID Vision, and came up with concrete recommendations. The reports contained findings and recommendations of each participant in the Working Group. The six reports were circulated to all Ministries and Local Authorities for analysis and comments. Public meetings were also held at District Councils and Municipalities to gather the opinion of the public on the reports.

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development developed a proper framework for the translation of the National MID Vision into a concrete Policy, a ten year Strategy, together with an Action Plan (Maurice Ile Durable Action Plan,2013).

3. Given that any national ghg emissions target is implicitly a position on achieving an atmospheric ghg concentration that will avoid dangerous climate change, to what extent has the nation identified the ghg atmospheric concentration stabilization level that the national emissions reduction target seeks to achieve in cooperation with other nations.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted on 09 May 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Republic of Mauritius signed the Convention on 10 June 1992 and was the first country to ratify it in September 1992. The Convention came into force on 21 March 1994. As a signatory Party to the Convention, Mauritius has, pursuant to Article 4 of the Convention, to honour its commitments and obligations, taking into account it’s common but differentiated responsibilities and its specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances. Mauritius has so far complied with the Convention with regards to national inventories of greenhouse gases.

With the technical and financial support of UNEP, the Initial National Communication (INC) of the Republic of Mauritius, which included the National Inventory of greenhouse gases, was prepared. This inventory was undertaken for the base year 1995 and the results presented in the Initial National Communication of Mauritius (NCC, 1999), submitted to the UNFCCC in April 1999. The Second National Communication (SNC) and the National Inventory Report (NIR), which contained emission inventory for the period 2000-2006 was submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development participated in the “Regional capacity building for sustainable National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Management Systems in Eastern and Southern Africa”, organized by UNFCCC Secretariats.

Under the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP), the Republic of Mauritius has benefited the financial support of Government of Japan (GOJ). The main objective of AAP is to integrate and mainstream climate change adaptation into the institutional framework and into core development policies, strategies and plans for the Republic of Mauritius. The key sectors are Agriculture, Disaster Risk Reduction, Education, Environment (including public infrastructures and health, amongst others), Finance, Fisheries, Tourism and Water.

Mauritius is also participating in the Switch Africa Green Project which has been designed by the European Union to support African countries engaged in transition to an Inclusive Green Economy. In the context of formulating a Low Carbon Development Strategy, Mauritius has developed a Project Identification Form for the Low carbon development strategy and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). The development of a Low Carbon Development Strategy and the NAMAs will be based on assessments to be carried out in the sectors concerned and it will take into account the long term energy security for an equitable development in Mauritius. The NAMAs project will help ensure the development of a strategy for a low emission pathway for Mauritius and further enhance the local capability to design and implement mitigation projects and programmes in different sectors of the economyfor the period 2014 to 2018.

In August 2014, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has signed a grant contract for the development of a 2050 Pathways Calculator for Mauritius. The 2050 Pathways Calculator was developed by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to allow countries to answer the fundamental questions of how far emissions could be reduced and energy needs be met. The UK DECC will assist Mauritius mainly in terms of capacity building on the formulation and use of the 2050 Pathways Calculator. It will also support the country in the quantification of mitigation actions in terms of ghg emission reduction targets. This assistance will also support Mauritius in the quantification of mitigation actions in terms of GHG emission reductions, especially taking into consideration:

a) the potential enhancement in increasing the GHG sink through the Clean and Green Mauritius Initiatives; and
b) the targets set out in our MID strategy and Action Plan:

i. Renewable Energy Targets: to achieve the national target of 35% renewable energy by 2025;

ii. Energy efficiency buildings: to reduce energy consumption in non-residential and public sector buildings by 10% by 2020; and
iii. Sustainable Public Transport: to reduce consumption of energy in the transport sector by 35% by 2025, in comparison to 2010.

Hence, the aim of the calculator is designed to quantify all our mitigation actions in terms of GHG emission reduction.

4. Given that any national ghg emissions target is implicitly a position on the nation’s fair share of safe global emissions, to what extent has the nation identified the ethical and justice considerations that it took into account in allocating a percentage of global ghg emissions to the nation through the identification of a ghg emissions reduction commitment.

As far as Mauritius is concerned, we are a Small Island Developing State (a developing country) Party to the UNFCCC and to the Kyoto Protocol and Doha Amendment. Mauritius does not have any legal obligation similar to a Developed Country Party to the Kyoto Protocol. However, to save the world from the climate crisis, Mauritius like any SIDS has initiated potential measures that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG). So far, there is no commitment, as such, formulated for GHG emission reduction.

Initiatives are on to promote climate change mitigation measures that also indirectly contribute to reduce GHG emissions. Climate change mitigation is also an integral part of our sustainable development model through the Maurice Ile Durable (MID) concept whereby Mauritius aims to achieve the national target of 35% Renewable Energy by 2025. Some key initiatives are:

• Tree Planting for Clean Air campaign with the target of planting some 200,000 trees throughout the whole island by 2015;
• Adoption of energy efficiency and conservation programmes;
• grants for around 59,757 solar water heaters;
• Two hydro unit of capacity 375 KW each have already been set up at La Nicolière Feeder Canal and one at Midlands Dam;
• Setting up of a 9Mega Watt (MW) Wind Farm Project at Plaine des Roches and 29.4 MW Wind Park at Plaine Sophie;
• promotion of photovoltaic;
• conversion of landfill gas to energy; and
• promotion of waste segregation, home composting and rainwater harvesting.

5. To what extent, if at all, has the nation acknowledged that nation’s emitting ghg above their fair share of safe global emissions have a responsibility to fund reasonable adaptation measures or unavoidable losses and damages in poor developing countries.

In line with Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Africa Group and G77 and China, Mauritius is calling upon Developed Country Parties to the UNFCCC to come up with more forceful and ambitious GHG emission reduction in line with their historical responsibility.

6. What formal mechanisms are available in the nation for citizens, NGOs and other interested organizations to question/contest the nation’s ethical position on climate change?

All complaints regarding climate change and environment pollution are directed at Ministry Of Environment and Sustainable Development. There is a Pollution Prevention and Control Division that ensures compliance to environmental legislation and standards under the Environment Protection Act (EPA). The Division registers environmental complaints and attends to emergencies by taking appropriate actions as set out in the Environment Protection Act and through established protocols for addressing environmental complaints.
The Division works in close collaboration with Enforcing Agencies and the Environment Police Division (Police de l’Environnement) to attend to environmental complaints. When enforcement and coordination in relation to environmental complaints cut across different statutes, the Division addresses these complex cases through the Environment Liaison Officers Committee and eventually to the Environment Coordination Committee.

7. How is the concept of climate justice understood by the current government? Have they articulated any position on climate justice issues that arise in setting ghg emissions policy or in regard to the adaptation needs of vulnerable nations or people?

Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has enjoyed a strong pluralistic democratic system and a sound human rights record. While drafting any policy, the Republic of Mauritius has always considered the rights of every human being of the society. Climate change is mainly a problem created by the industrialised nation whereas SIDs and its citizens are being disproportionately impacted, thereby threatening the hard earned development gains and seriously undermining poverty alleviation and sustainable development efforts.

A Climate Change Bill has been drafted to establish the legal framework and mechanism towards making Mauritius climate change-resilient and adopt a low-carbon economy in line with the overarching Government objectives of developing a green economy. The Bill will support and facilitate the development and implementation of policies, strategies and programmes to address climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas emission reduction. A Workshop on Climate Resilient Legislation was held from 22 – 24 August 2012 for the Capacity Building of key stakeholders on drafting of legislation and the validation of the content of the proposed Climate Change Bill. Some 60 participants from the public and parastatal sectors, academics and NGOs have been consulted throughout the project. Moreover, there is also Strategy and Action Plans for Climate Change Adaptation for the Agricultural, Fisheries, Tourism and Water Sectors and special attention to gender mainstreaming. The main objective of the plan is to devises climate change-related policies that would address adaptation and mitigation of risks in the above sectors.

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development is mainstreaming climate change issues into environment-related policies and to enhance knowledge and sensitise relevant stakeholders on the use and interpretation of appropriate guidelines for the assessment of coastal protection and development works, taking into consideration climate change risks and impacts. A training and validation workshop was held on 5th-7th November 2012. Some 50 participants from public, parastatal and private organisations attended the workshop.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Policy Framework has been developed to foster the development of policies, strategies, plans and processes to avoid, minimize and adapt to the negative impacts of climate change on the key sectors namely: water, agriculture, fisheries and tourism and also to avoid or reduce damage to human settlements and infrastructure and loss of lives caused by climate change. The report comprises of:

1. National Climate Change Adaptation Policy,
2. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan,
3. Climate Change Adaptation Investment Program, and
4. Project Concepts.

Mauritius have joined hands with AOSIS in calling for developed countries to come up with second commitment period under Kyoto Protocol to meet the requirements for Green House Gas Emissions reduction by 25-40 % by 2020 and 85% by 2050. Finance for adaptation is our top priority. There is a need to consider urging developed countries for enhanced cooperation on adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building accompanied by financial supports to enable the building of a climate resilient nation.

8. Are you aware of any regional, state, provincial, or local governments in your country that has acknowledged some ethical responsibility for climate change? If so, what have they said?

The Republic of Mauritius has put climate change high on its agenda and has adopted a proactive approach in building resilience to this global phenomenon. In our commitment to integrate sustainable development concepts into our national policies, there has been development of the Maurice Ile Durable (MID) Policy, a 10-Year Strategy and a 3-Year Action Plan, focusing on Energy, Environment, Employment, Education and Equity.

We are not ethically responsible for climate change in Mauritius. However, the Local Government and Local Authorities are working towards mainstreaming climate change. A toolkit for Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Identification of Adaptation Options for the Municipal Council has been formulated.

9. Has your national government taken any position on or otherwise encouraged individuals, businesses, organizations, subnational governments, or other entities that they have some ethical duty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A series of activities including awareness weeks, sensitization campaigns, training sessions, local and regional workshops, development of pedagogical materials, and exhibitions are being organised by the government targeting over 50 000 people from civil society in particular youth, women and community organisations have been carried out over the last two years. Some 2270 professionals from various sectors, including engineering, architecture, education, environment, health, gender and legislation have been sensitized, trained and imparted with expert knowledge on building resilience against climate change (Agriculture, Construction, Climate Modelling and Analysis, Disaster Risk Reduction, Education, Environment, Fisheries, Finance, Gender, Health, Tourism, Water sectors, academia, private sectors and NGOs). Photovoltaic cells are being placed at industrial premises. Energy efficiency and energy conservative codes are being practiced. New legislations/measures are being developed /implemented.

10. What recommendations would you make to get the nation or civil society to take ethics and justice issues seriously in climate change policy formulation?

Our main recommendations are as follows:

1. People of vulnerable targeted groups should be sensitised and trained in contributing and shaping a safer climate resilient world.
2. Citizens should be made aware of the vulnerability of the island and help in alleviating risks as well as help in bringing relief where people are being highly impacted.
3. Promulgation of new ‘Standards for Ambient Air Quality and Stack Emissions’ for activities such as: thermal power plants, industrial boilers, foundries, fugitive dusts, solid wastes and medical wastes incinerators.
4. Establishment of air quality monitoring mechanism and development of an air quality index
5. Promote organic production of fruits and vegetables and encourage citizens to consume locally produced fruits and vegetables.


AAP – African Adaptation Progamme
AOSIS – Alliance of Small Island States
COMESA – Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
DECC – Department of Energy and Climate Change
EAC – Eastern African Community
EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zone
EPA – Economic Partnership Agreement
EPI – Environmental Performance Index
GDP – Gross Domestic Product
GOJ – Government Of Japan
GHG – Green House Gas
ICT – Information and Communication Technology
MID – Maurice Ile Durable
NMVOC – Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compound
NAMA – Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action
NGOs – Non-Governmental Organizations
PER – Preliminary Environmental Report
PPP – Purchasing Power Parity
SIDS – Small Island Developing States
SADC – Southern African Development Community
UK – United Kingdom
UNEP – United Nations Environment Programme
UNFCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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