Yesterday, at the opening of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, President Nasheed of the Maldives delivered an incredible speech. I have included some of my favourite parts below:
Members of the G8 rich countries have pledged to halt temperature rises to two degrees Celsius.
Yet they have refused to commit to the carbon targets, which would deliver even this modest goal.
At two degrees we would lose the coral reefs.
At two degrees we would melt Greenland.
At two degrees my country would not survive.
As a president I cannot accept this.
As a person I cannot accept this.
I refuse to believe that it is too late, and that we cannot do any about it.
Copenhagen is our date with destiny.
Let us go there with a better plan…..
At the moment every country arrives at the negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible.
They never make commitments, unless someone else does first.
This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.
We don’t want a global suicide pact.
And we will not sign a global suicide pact, in Copenhagen or anywhere.
So today, I invite some of the most vulnerable nations in the world, to join a global survival pact instead.
We are all in this as one.
We stand or fall together.
I hope you will join me in deciding to stand.”
President Nasheed and leaders from vulnerable countries around the world signed a declaration calling on developing countries to develop using clean energy and sustainable technology, and for rich nations to commit to fast and deep carbon reduction paired with significant assistance to poor nations.
We are gathered here because we are the most vulnerable group of nations to climate change.
The problem is already on us, yet we have precious little with which to fight.
Some might prefer us to suffer in silence but today we have decided to speak.
And so I make this pledge today: we will not die quietly….
I believe in humanity.
I believe in human ingenuity.
I believe that with the right frame of mind, we can solve this crisis.
In the Maldives, we want to focus less on our plight; and more on our potential.
We want to do what is best for the planet.
And what is best for our economic self-interest.
This is why, earlier this year, we announced plans to become carbon neutral in ten years.
We will switch from oil to 100% renewable energy.
And we will offset aviation pollution, until a way can be found to decarbonise air transport too.
To my mind, countries that have the foresight to green their economies today, will be the winners of tomorrow.
They will be the winners of this century.
These pioneering countries will free themselves from the unpredictable price of foreign oil.
They will capitalize on the new, green economy of the future.
And they will enhance their moral standing, giving them greater political influence on the world stage.
A group of vulnerable, developing countries committed to carbon neutral development would send a loud message to the outside world.
If vulnerable, developing countries make a commitment to carbon neutrality, those opposed to change have nowhere left to hide.
If those with the least start doing the most, what excuse can the rich have for continuing inaction?
I think a bloc of carbon-neutral, developing nations could change the outcome of Copenhagen.
You can read the full text of the speech here.