President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed is to visit India in October at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss issues related to climate change, ahead of the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen in December. A former journalist and political activist, Mr. Nasheed is the first President of Maldives after introduction of multi-party democracy in the island country. Mr. Nasheed, known for his outspoken views on climate change, is of the opinion that everyone stands to loose if the Copenhagen conference does not result in an agreement. “In the course of my visit to New Delhi, I would put across the viewpoint of Maldives on the need for the developed and developing countries to treat consequences of climate change as a security rather than a environment issue,” Mr. Nasheed told a group of visiting international journalists.
Mr. Nasheed would not be represented at the Copenhagen conference though a section of the scientific community has predicted the possibility of Maldives ceasing to exist due to rise in sea levels triggered by climate change. The Maldives President said he would not be able to make it to the conference due to the “precarious financial situation” of the island nation, which consists of 196 small islands with an estimated population of 3,00,000. “Our budget deficit is 34 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and the economists consider 14 per cent deficit as a very alarming situation. You can imagine the situation for yourself,” said Mr. Nasheed.
Mr. Nasheed said his country had excellent relations with India and looked forward to strengthening its ties in all areas. “India has been extremely cooperative and understanding of our problems.” Given the divergence of views among the developed and developing countries on issues related to climate change, experts are keeping their fingers crossed on whether or not the Copenhagen conference would yield a new global climate treaty with every minor detail in place. Mr. Nasheed said he believed if Earth had to survive in the present form, it was time for all to forget the past and move on with the future and reach an agreement at Copenhagen.
A new climate treaty at Copenhagen will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December, 1997 and came into force on February 16, 2005. The Kyoto Protocol which sets binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been signed and ratified by 184 parties of the U.N. Climate Convention.
In an article published in The New York Times just a month after he got elected in December last year, Mr. Nasheed wrote: “Any sensible head of state will tell you that the priority of high office is the defence of the realm. When I was elected President of the Maldives last month, my advisers gave me similar counsel. Like any other nation state, at any point in history, the Maldives must protect itself from the menace of foreign invasion, terrorism and espionage. Still, to be honest, I really don’t see any one wanting to invade or attack us”. “For the first time in the country’s history, however, the Maldives face a new threat. This new danger is of apocalyptic, existential proportions, and it looms silently, invisibly and menacingly over our azure horizon. I am talking about climate change and rising sea levels.”