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A month ago, President Nasheed of the Maldives gave a powerful speech to urge everyone about consequences of the talks in Copenhagen. This is his speech. If you are still unconvinced that the world’s climate is changing, let it be clear that it is. The world is intricately connected – actions of people in one country can affect another severely. The world is not just ours, as it is not just the developed nation’s. The world is also limited, and our resources finite.

Let it be clear that your lifestyles are key to this change. Let it be clear that people are suffering all over this world.

President Nasheed’s Powerful Speech

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

We gather in this hall today,
as some of the most climate-vulnerable nations on Earth.
We are vulnerable because
climate change threatens to hit us first; and hit us hardest.
And we are vulnerable because we have modest means
with which to protect ourselves from the coming disaster.

We are a diverse group of countries.
But we share one common enemy.
For us, climate change is no distant or
abstract threat; but a clear and present danger to our survival.

Climate change is melting the glaciers in Nepal.
It is causing flooding in Bangladesh.
It threatens to submerge the Maldives and Kiribati.
And in recent weeks, it has furthered drought in Tanzania,
and typhoons in the Philippines.

We are the frontline states in the climate change battle.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Developing nations did not cause the climate crisis.
We are not responsible for the hundreds of years
of carbon emissions, which are cooking the planet.

But the dangers climate change poses to our countries,
means that this crisis can no longer be considered somebody else’s problem.

Carbon knows no boundaries.
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this fight together.
For all of us gathered here today, inaction is not an option.

So, what can we do about it?

To my mind, whatever course of action we take must be based on the latest advice of climate scientists. Not on the advice of politicians like us.

As Copenhagen looms, and negotiators frantically search for a solution, it is easy to think that climate change is like any other international issue.

It is easy to assume that it can be solved
by a messy political compromise between powerful states.
But the fact of the matter is, we cannot negotiate
with the laws of physics.
We cannot cut a deal with Mother Nature.
We have to learn to live within the fixed planetary boundaries
that nature has set.

And it is increasingly clear that we are living way beyond those planetary means.

Scientists say that global carbon dioxide levels
must be brought back down below 350 parts per million.
And we can see why.
We have already overshot the safe landing space.

In consequence the ice caps are melting.
The rainforests are threatened.
And the world’s coral reefs are in imminent danger.

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.

Ladies and gentlemen,
When we look around the world today,
there are few countries showing moral leadership on climate change.
There are plenty of politicians willing
to point the finger of blame.
But there are few prepared to help solve a crisis that,
left unchecked, will consume us all.

Few countries are willing to discuss
the scale of emissions reductions required to save the planet.
And the offers of adaptation support
for the most vulnerable nations are lamentable.
The sums of money on offer are so low,
it is like arriving at a earthquake zone with a dustpan and brush.

We don’t want to appear ungrateful
but the sums hardly address the scale of the challenge.
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.

Ladies and gentlemen,
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.
Here in the Maldives we have relinquished our claim to high-carbon growth.

After all, it is not carbon we want, but development.
It is not coal we want, but electricity.
It is not oil we want, but transport.

Low-carbon technologies now exist, to deliver all the goods and services we need.

Let us make the goal of using them.

Ladies and gentlemen,
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?

We know this is not an easy step to take,
and that there might be dangers along the way.
We want to shine a light, not loudly demand
that others go first into the dark.

So today, we want to share with you our carbon neutral strategy.
And we want to ask you to consider carbon neutrality yourselves.
I think a bloc of carbon-neutral, developing nations could change the outcome of Copenhagen.

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.


Head here to sign a petition that will deliver your name to President Nasheed, who will speak at the Copenhagen conference.


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