Ringed by volcanic rock, sandy beaches and the blue swell of the Indian Ocean, France’s Reunion island is hardly a major polluter.
But hit by rising fuel costs and worried about the impact of global warming, particularly on its delicate flora and fauna, the small island nation has set itself the ambitious goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
By 2025, the French territory wants to use renewable energy sources to produce 100 percent of its electricity, and to power all of its transport by 2050.
“We have water, sunshine, we even have an active volcano. We have more energy than we need for our development,” Paul Verges, president of Reunion’s regional council, said after Group of Eight (G8) leaders agreed a 50 percent cut in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050.
“We will be fighting 100 percent against CO2 at the same date that you (the G8 rich nations) will be at 50 percent,” Verges told journalists in July on the sidelines of a biodiversity conference.
Some 36 percent of Reunion’s electricity already comes from renewables, mostly hydroenergy and sugar cane fiber, bagasse.
But it wants to boost that figure by expanding its existing sources, cutting inefficiencies and exploring new technologies.
“What’s possible in Reunion should also be possible in France, and should also be possible for the planet,” France’s Overseas Territories Minister Yves Jego told Reuters.