Before Copenhagen, the Maldives went scuba-diving to hold an underwater cabinet meeting, emphasizing the threat of rising sea levels to their nation. Years ago they pledged to become a carbon-neutral country, utilizing clean energy and offsetting all airline flights to their tourist resorts. And now, as countries around the world send their emissions cuts to the U.N. before the January 31 deadline, the Maldives again underlines the severity of the situation with a dramatic and inspirational move: The Maldives has voluntarily pledged to cut their carbon emissions 100% by 2020. It’s the deepest cut anyone has submitted so far, underlining the threat, the commitment and the strategy of shock, all very real parts of life in the Maldives.
“Climate change threatens us all. If we don’t act now, we will lose the rainforests, lose the coral reefs and, potentially, lose human civilization itself,” said President Mohamed Nasheed.
The Maldives have become a vocal and visible champion of drastic measures. Moves like an underwater government meeting or pledging to cut emissions 100% are as much headline grabbers as they are earnest assessment of the dire situation. The Maldivian economy is based on the water around them- fishing, diving, and resort tourism.
If the oceans rise by two meters, a number put forward by some climate change scientists, the Maldives would we uninhabitable. Many of the nations island atolls would be fully underwater and other, larger islands would see damage to their groundwater, massive beach and land erosion, and the disappearance of their beach and coral reef tourism.
A rise of just one meter over the next century could flood 4 out of 5 of the 1200 Maldivian islands.
“The world is wasting billions of dollars per year on dirty fossil fuels; money that could be saved by switching to clean energy. New technologies allow us to both develop and maintain a healthy environment. It is time mankind moves into the Green Age.” – President Nasheed.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the 100% pledge is that the world will smile and say that may work for the Maldives, but not for the rest of us- why not?