Nasheed: We are Not Prepared to Die
Statement of Maldives
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, Head of the Delegation of Maldives, Chair of AOSIS
Climate Vulnerable Forum Event
UNFCCC COP24, Katowice Poland
13 December 2018
We are not prepared to die.
And the Maldives has no intention of dying.
We are not going to become the first victims of the climate crisis.
Instead, we are going to do everything in our power to keep our heads above water.
We harbour no illusions about the dangers.
And we are acutely aware of our own vulnerability.
Climate change is a national security issue for us.
It is an existential threat.
The recent IPCC report is crystal clear: emissions must be reduced by 45% in 12 years to stabilize global warming at 1.5 degrees.
Climate change is already upon us: weather patterns are changing; coral reefs are dying; erosion and water contamination are getting worse.
But that doesn’t mean we are going to give up.
We plan to survive in a warming world, any way we can.
That doesn’t mean, however, we will destroy what’s left of nature.
In our quest for adaptation, we don’t want to concrete over coral reefs to make a seawall.
We need to work with nature, not against it.
To restore nature as far as we can.
That’s why we need soft, but smart, adaptation strategies.
We will build seawalls that encourage coral reef growth.
We will grow mangroves to protect ourselves from stronger storms.
We will use the latest science and cultivation techniques to grow corals that can survive hotter and more acidic seas.
Because some warming is evitable even if we commit to zero emissions today.
Coral reefs are literally the bedrock of our country.
Our islands, reefs and lagoons are made from, and protected by, coral reefs.
The Maldives is a living ecosystem; we cannot allow it to die.
Nor do we want to see other world treasures, such as the Great Barrier Reef, collapse.
We are therefore calling on other coral nations to join forces with us, in an emergency coalition to save the world’s reefs.
We need to pool our best marine ecologists, innovators and engineers to come up with ways to save coral reefs.
We must not allow these crucial eco-systems to go extinct.
We call on all nations — big and small, rich or poor — to join hands with us to find crisis strategies that can save as much of the reefs as possible.
We appeal to you to set aside political differences, and come together with an open hand and an honest heart.
We must work together to salvage what we can.
Of course, we cannot adapt forever, as the world gets hotter and hotter and hotter.
We are all in this together.
It’s just madness for us to allow global CO2 levels to go beyond 450ppm, and temperatures to shoot past 1.5 degrees.
That can still be prevented.
If we come together on the basis of the emergency facing us, we can do it.
Every country at this summit will have hell to pay if we don’t.
The Maldives is not prepared to allow that to happen.
The Maldives will, once again, play its part.
Next year, we will review our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.
The new target will be based on President Mohamed Ibrahim Solih’s commitment to aggressively adopt solar power and renewable energy.
And it will also take into account the recent IPCC report on 1.5 degrees.
We will play our part.
I am heartened that other nations are planning similar things.
I fully support the Marshall Islands who, through its leadership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, has become the first country to submit new targets under the Paris Agreement.
Since I last addressed the COP in 2009, I’ve been deposed in a coup, thrown into jail, and forced into exile.
But almost 10 years since I was last at these climate negotiations, I must say, nothing much seems to have changed.
We are still using the same old, dinosaur language.
Still saying the same old words.
Still making the same tedious points.
Perhaps now it’s time to tell ourselves some hard truths.
Carbon emissions keep rising, and rising, and rising.
And all we seem to be doing is talking and talking and talking.
We are not winning the battle.
Half of the problem, is that we are still begging the big polluters to stop polluting on ethical grounds.
But they are not listening to us.
So instead, rather than asking for cuts, perhaps we should be demanding increases.
Increases in investments in clean energy.
Huge increases in clean energy.
We should ask the big emitters to invest so much into clean energy, they will stop investing in, and using, fossil fuels.
We need to reframe what we are demanding: lets demand something positive, rather than demand something negative.
If we focused more on investments in clean energy, rather than cuts in emissions I think we would see investments go up, while pollution comes down.
We Maldivians are a nation of survivors.
And we will do everything we can to ensure the survival of our country.
But we can only survive as a nation if we also survive as a planet.
So let us join together, commit to a clean energy future, and make investments in clear energy our blueprint for survival.