Maldives president pleads for climate action 2009-09-23 00:01:52   Print

    UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- In an emotional speech, President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed told world leaders on Tuesday that his country's fate depends on their ability to stop the political bickering and come to an agreement on global warming.

    "If things go business as usual, we will not live," he said at the UN climate summit. "We will die. Our country will not exist."

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed addresses the United Nations Climate Change Summit at the UN headquarters in New York Sept. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed addresses the United Nations Climate Change Summit at the UN headquarters in New York Sept. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
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    As the Arctic polar caps melt and the waters warm, the Maldivesis threatened by rising sea levels, extreme weather and coral bleaching. Not waiting for a post-Kyoto pact, the Maldives recently announced it would become carbon neutral by 2020.

    "We cannot make Copenhagen a pact for suicides," he said. "The threat posed by climate change is so now acute, the science is so clear, the solution so apparent, and the cost-benefits analysis of action and inaction so alarming, that such horse trading and brinkmanship must be left in the past."

    Nasheed is chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which adopted a declaration on Monday calling for a new climate pact that ensures global warming be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    The 42-member group called on industrialized nations to provide developing islands with adequate financial resources, technology, and human capacity to help mitigate and adapt to extreme weather events.

    Speaking at the largest meeting of heads of state on climate change, Nasheed urged developed countries to acknowledge their responsibility for global warming. There are 15 days left before world leaders are expected to reach a climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

    Nasheed reiterated the need for leaders to agree to "ambitious and binding" emission reduction targets that would ensure global warming be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, at which point applause echoed throughout the General Assembly chamber.

    The United States, the world's largest polluter, and the European Union have made pledges to reduce emissions by about 20 percent. But AOSIS has said that's not enough.

    Nasheed said that if developed countries make the necessary cuts, the developing world "must be ready to jump" and accept their own binding emission reduction targets, providing they are given the technological and financial tools.

    Adequate and predictable funding for adaptation costs must be provided by rich countries as well, said Nasheed.

    Tackling climate change will take a fundamental shift in thinking, said Nasheed, from one that assumes reducing emissions will incur an economic cost or a relative disadvantage to one that sees green technology as an opportunity for growth.

    "Oil is running out and is becoming increasingly expensive while clean technologies and renewable technologies are becoming ever more efficient and affordable," he said. "States which accept this reality and embrace the green new deal will be the winners of the 20th Century."

Editor: Yan
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