The president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has delivered an impassioned plea to save the stalled climate change talks, as time runs out for world leaders to reach agreement in Copenhagen.
Addressing the ministers and heads of state attending the Joint High-level segment of COP15 and CMP5, the President called on both the developed and developing countries to show leadership in moving on from entrenched positions and come together in order to avoid the collapse of the negotiations.
“Kyoto divided the world,” he said. “It divided us between rich and poor, developed and developing, Annex 1 and non-Annex 1. Our task now is to unite the world behind the shared vision of low-carbon growth.”
President Nasheed in particular emphasized that industrialized countries needed to raise their level of ambition at the talks and commit to “collective reductions of 40% by 2020, and 95% by 2050.” He also said that for small island states and vulnerable developing countries to survive, the world must agree to limit temperature rises to 1.5C and atmospheric CO2 to 350ppm.
But as part of this global target, he also called for developing countries to play their part. “The rich world may have caused the climate crisis, by filling our atmosphere with pollution,” he said. “But two wrongs don’t make a right.”
President Nasheed specifically called on China to show more willingness to compromise at the talks. “I am sure that if China shows leadership, others will follow,” he said. He therefore urged China and other big developing country emitters “to come forward with quantifiable and internationally verifiable actions to reduce their emissions 30% below business as usual by 2020.”
Speaking after his plenary address, the President added: “The Maldives more than any other country needs these talks to succeed. We face the extinction of our entire nation and people if countries do not work together to solve climate change.”
Regarding his role in the talks, President Nasheed emphasized that he was working constantly to try bring the different parties together and bridge the divide. “We have already offered our own plan to be the world’s first carbon neutral nation,” he said. “Tomorrow I will be meeting with the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to discuss with him ways that we can all move forward.”