Climate: Time running out

2010-04-23 20:06

Seoul - The president of the Maldives warned on Friday that the world is running out of time to stall climate change and said he hoped a UN climate summit in Mexico this year would put the international community on track to adopting a new global warming treaty.

A UN summit in 2009 in Copenhagen was largely seen as a disappointment for failing to set crucial binding targets for reducing carbon emissions by industrial countries. The Copenhagen Accord also does not require developing countries to limit the growth of their emissions, where most of the increase will occur over the next decades.

"We have a window of 10 years, and if we don't do something in those years things might turn to tipping points," said President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives in an interview in Seoul, where he received the UN's highest environmental award.

"We've lost the opportunity in Copenhagen," he said. "When we go to Mexico... or perhaps later in South Africa... hopefully we will be able to come up with a framework where we will have an understanding." The conference in Cancun, Mexico, is scheduled to begin in late November.

Nasheed's country, a low-lying archipelago in the Indian Ocean, would be among the earliest victims of rising seas as glaciers melt due to global warming, and Nasheed has become a vocal advocate of climate change policy.

Underwater meeting

He held a Cabinet meeting underwater last year to raise awareness of the issue and pledged to make the nation, with a population of 350 000, the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2020.

Carbon neutrality refers to achieving an equal balance of the amount of carbon dioxide - the leading greenhouse gas - emitted and the amount offset through measures such as the use of alternative energy sources including wind or solar power.

He also announced plans for a fund to buy a new homeland for his people if the Maldives' 1 192 coral islands are submerged.

On Thursday, after receiving the 2010 Champions of the Earth award at the Business 4 Environment conference, Nasheed said the current level of international effort to combat climate change is not enough and urged nations with high carbon emissions to aim for bigger reduction goals. He returned to that point again in Friday's interview.

"Ambitions are not as much as we would like it to be and we would especially like to see big emitting countries like the US, China and India coming up with ambitions to maintain a healthy level in the atmosphere," he said.

Nasheed tempered optimism with concern that time is running out.

"I still believe in human ingenuity but we're fearful that that might be very late in the day," he said of the future.

  • Karel Vorster - 2010-04-24 08:27

    Enough now with this toss! Climate change is over-hyped, and fear-mongering is not getting us anywhere. However, with the state of the media as is, what do you expect? It has now been proven conclusively that the earth is actually cooling down. However, it seems like always, it will take South Africa 20 years to wake up to the fact - just as the headlines about the march on against the genocide here. Except that I have seen that report about a week ago. Go on sheople, run over the cliff, because you have stopped thinking for yourselves years ago.

  • Climate Change Victim - 2010-04-24 13:46

    President Nasheed is right; time is running out. In fact, many scientists believe that time has already run out and that the world needs to be acting now, today, to not just stabilise carbon and other polluting emissions but to reverse them. They are saying that waiting until a scheduled meeting in Mexico later in the year is criminal - the evidence is clear that emergency action across the world, is required, now. Today. And that the most critically important intervention required is for humans everywhere to stop breeding, and to reduce the global population from the current 6.5 billion humans down to a sustainable 1 billion.
    Sound crazy? Sound like pie in the sky? Sound like the ravings of a lunatic? :-) Well, many highly-qualified and informed people are saying these things and it's time we realised the life-threatening predicament we're in ...

  • Nesomaniac - 2010-04-24 16:37

    Whoopee! President Mohamed Nasheed is now an experienced climate scientist. All he is after is a dip into the Billions claimed from the creators of the Mann-made Goricle.

  • Nesomaniac - 2010-04-24 18:03

    Oh 'climate change victim'! Dear oh dear! Every single living creature on earth today, and for thousands of millennia in the past, have been 'victims'(sic!) of climate change! It is nothing new and we should be VERY worried if climates stopped changing. However, I fully support your call for ZPG!

  • Alien - 2010-04-28 10:43

    Really Karel? Proven conclusively, by whom? You are right though, the culprits are not cars and factories, but humans. Way, way too many humans.

    You people just don't get it. IF you are wrong that it is just overhyped nonsense, you cannot undo it. And a "Oops, sorry" won't fix it. Humanity's demise is inevitable. The only question is whether you want your children and grandchildren to experience it.

    The only way to prevent the inevitable conclusion to this debate, will be the immediate mass sterilization of humans, and THAT is a fact!

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