It is indeed a great pleasure and a joy to be here today. We have been in Berlin now for the last three days and I must say I have had an excellent time. I did try to visit the Jazz club but unfortunately I was not able to do that but my colleagues did it without me. It was not very nice of them.
There have been many low points in my life. We have fought against very, many odds.
Three years ago, no one would have believed that I would be the President of the Republic of Maldives. But we have won many battles against these odds. The odds were stacked because the dictatorship lied, they employed spin, intimidated the people simply to maintain the status quo.
After the Copenhagen, we are on such a low point now. We are losing the momentum. We are losing the awareness campaign to make the whole world aware of climate realities, because climate deniers are lying and they are spinning and they are obstructing the momentum that we had gained.
We have in the last few months seen many doubts raised about the IPCCC reports, but I would like to point out that even when you take all these leaked emails together there has – even f you do believe them – there is no material difference to the facts. Climate change is real and it is happening. Even if you pull out one page of the thousand page report from the IPCCC group, you cannot then deny the other 999 pages. Any report can have factual errors but that does not make any substantial difference again to the material facts.
In my mind there is a diabolical plan or a scheme or a conspiracy to cloud the scientific evidence behind climate change. In my mind the science is clear and I hope that you do believe about the science. It is very clear, it is very sorted. But there are vested interest trying to cloud the issue. Now every time climate change is mentioned in newspapers…for instance, today’s main thing could be reported here that I came, I talked about climate change, the leaked emails and the IPCCC report and the doubts on the report. The last two lines would always now be there in newspapers. Now that is clouding the issue. That is creating a fair amount of doubt among the general public and therefore, we are losing the battle.
There are big deniers, there are institutions, there are congressmen, there are parliamentarians, and there are heads of states who do not want to accept the scientific realities. So there are institutions that can be used to lobby and cloud the evidence of science. I will tell these people, please visit the Maldives and have a look. Have a look at what is happening to our beaches, have a look at what is happening to our coral reefs, have a look at what is happening to the ocean. There is no doubt and there is no reason for us to doubt. When of course, Galileo Galilei said the sun was the centre of the universe, the Pope wanted to do away with him. We cannot choose now to live in the age of stupid. We have to be more aware and we really do have to believe in the science.
As I keep stressing, the science in sorted; Icecaps are melting, seas are rising, the whether is unpredictable, the rains are not coming at the time when they used to, the fish are not coming at the time that they used to, the wind is stronger than it used to be and weaker than it used to be.
My European friends tell me now that they are experiencing the coldest winter in the last 25 or 3o years. By summer, they will tell me that they are experiencing the hottest summer in the last 30 or 40 years and next year they will say the same – it is the coldest and the hottest. There are climate aberrations and this really is the reality and we should not doubt the science when it is so clearly laid in front of us.
Climate change, of course, will and it is already a very serious issue for us in the Maldives. Even as I speak, there are 14 islands in the Maldives that require relocation. Even tomorrow there will be a home lost and we would have to rebuild that home on another island or elsewhere in the same island. Maldives is very, very low – it is just 1.5 meters above sea-level – and therefore, there really is no other space for us to go. We have been in the middle of the Indian Ocean for the last 8000 years. We have written history that goes back 2000 years and even if I move to somewhere else and even if the people move, I just wonder, where would the butterflies go and where would the colours and the sounds go.
We cannot leave. We will have to defend the Maldives. If we cannot defend the Maldives today, it will be you tomorrow. Climate change will cause global GDPs to fall by 5-20 percent. There will be massive economic difficulties and depression. Climate change threatens our ecosystem. If we do not act now we will lose our coral reefs, we will lose our beaches, and I’m sure tomorrow it will be you. What happens to us now will happen to you tomorrow and in many senses we are all Maldivians.
So, we need to pickup from the momentum that we had while we went to Copenhagen. In my mind, it is so necessary now to find out who distributed the emails, who hacked it, where was it placed it, how it make the lines, how did it make its way to newspaper headlines. Where is the investigative journalism on that line? Where is the investigative journalism on the criminal element of it all? We continuously read about the emails but why has these emails become such a big issue? Why? There is no substance in those emails. I have read them all. And it doesn’t quite add up. It doesn’t make any material difference to the evidence that is laid so clearly in front of us. So why is it making the rows in the newspapers? Who is doing it? I believe that there is a conspiracy. And I think any responsible journalist and I believe all responsible students really would have to think about this element: why is it coming out on and on and on. Who is behind this? We have to find this. And we have to point that finger and we have to again make the science as credible as in fact it is. We have to get rid of the perception that there is something wrong with the science. There is nothing wrong with the science, we are just simply stupid. I would say that this is the height of ignorance.
Some countries that made the Accord possible are now again moving away from the Accord. All this we made possible, because consistently we get this in the newspapers that there is a problem with the science.
We cannot actually treat climate change as any other world negotiation. This is not world trade negotiations. This is not disarmament negotiations. You cannot cut a deal with Mother Nature. There are clear planetary boundaries and you cannot give this to a country and take that from a country and it doesn’t work like your ordinary negotiations. These are not world trade negotiations. These are not disarmament negotiations. These are not negotiations. These are facts and you better believe it and act accordingly. So we can’t go on endlessly.
Now, Conference of Parties will be meeting in Mexico by the end of the year. We will again not reach an agreement. Similar to world trade talks, this can go on and on and on. The UNFCCC process is so very well laid a process that it is losing its substance. Everyone gets more concerned about the process. Even in Copenhagen, the whole of the developing world and everyone who was against the Accord were more concerned, more worried about the process and not about the substance.
Very often we are finding ourselves in situations where the process is overtaking the substance. It is the substance that we are after. We want action and we don’t want to be in an endless process. So I believe we have to simplify the UN framework of negotiations. We have to think outside the box and we have to find out ways and means of finding a solution without endlessly talking about it.
While, I must say, politicians fiddle, Rome is burning and the seas are rising. I would ask you and I would ask European countries to leave behind their objectives of two degrees and be more ambitious and go for 1.5 degrees. I understand that it is difficult, but with 2 degrees, there can be runaway global warming.
When I say this I must admit thank your government and your Chancellor, during the small hours in Copenhagen when 25 countries negotiate a view, it was only the German Chancellor who stood behind the small islands. So I thank her and I thank your countrymen for that. I can go on and on. We believe that becoming carbon neutral is economically feasible. We believe that it is the smart thing to do.
We are on a threshold of another industrial revolution. Much, much greater the leap it would be, than the last industrial revolution. Smart people or smart entrepreneurs or countries would be those who are bold enough to embrace the future and go the green way.
The Maldives will hopefully become carbon neutral in the next ten years. We must not give up. We must not betray our children. We must not let the deniers win. They can fool themselves – the deniers. Let sheepish politicians follow the herd. Let other governments vacillate. For me – for the Maldives – the fight goes on and we will not give up.
Thank you very much.