Maldives battles climate change

2009-03-15 13:04

London - The Maldives will become the world's first carbon neutral country by fully switching to the use of renewable energy within a decade, President Mohamed Nasheed said in an article to be published on Sunday.

Writing in Britain's Observer weekly newspaper, Nasheed said the country would rely on solar panels and wind turbines instead of oil, adding that "the Maldives will no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions."

Nasheed's remarks come just less than a week after scientists meeting in Copenhagen earlier this week warned the impact of global warming was accelerating beyond a forecast made by UN experts two years ago.

"For the Maldives, a nation of tropical coral islands just 1.5m above the sea, these warnings come with added bite," the Indian Ocean atoll nation's leader wrote.

"Climate change isn't a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all."

He added: "In a grotesque Faustian pact, we have done a deal with the carbon devil: for untold fossil fuel consumption in our lifetime, we are trading our children's place in an earthly paradise.

"Today, the Maldives will opt out of that pact."

Nasheed noted that "making the radical shift to carbon neutrality won't be easy. But where there is a will, there is a way."

"People often tell me caring for the environment is too difficult, too expensive or too much bother. I admit installing solar panels and wind turbines doesn't come cheap.

"But when I read those science reports from Copenhagen, I know there is only one choice. Going green might cost a lot but refusing to act now will cost us the Earth."

In March 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that global warming, if unchecked, would lead to a devastating amalgam of floods, drought, disease and extreme weather by the century end.