Averting climate change catastrophe is still possible, says environment minister

Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim has called for a cap on global temperature rise, and pledged to increase renewable energy to 30% in the next 5 years.

“Averting catastrophe is still possible,” said Thoriq in a statement released yesterday (April 14).

“The impacts of climate change are already being felt, and that is why we are calling for a cap of 1.5 degree Celcius.”

Thoriq’s pledges were made in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report entitled ‘Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change’, released on March 31.

The IPCC report contends that the world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. However, it also argues that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be more difficult to manage the higher the levels of warming.

The report confirms that carbon emissions have risen more rapidly during the last decade, and that a rise in our current temperature would make the effects extremely difficult to manage. It further urged leaders to invest in low carbon energy projects in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees celcius.

The statement by Thoriq explains that the Maldives – with its low lying islands vulnerable to a rise in sea levels – has been actively campaigning the impacts of climate change for 27 years.

“We are determined and actively working towards increasing our share of renewable in the electricity production of populated islands by 30% within next 5 years,” stated Thoriq.

“The Maldives is committed to introduce cost effective renewable energy as part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix in our low carbon development.”

The IPCC report prompted calls from Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon for the international community to switch from ” ‘business-as-usual’ mode to ‘action now’ “.

“Let this report be the much needed impetus for this September’s Climate Summit in New York, and let us all put our names in history books for saving the planet for our children, in Paris next year”, said Dunya shortly after the report’s publication.

Policies in progress

In keeping with these statements, the Ministry of Environment had recently revealed plans to set up a climate research institute in the Maldives.

Speaking as the guest of honour at the second forum on climate held in the Maldives, Minister Thoriq said that this forum was an important step in mitigating the risks of climate change that low-lying island states experience, reported local media outlet CNM.

Introduced in the Maldives in July 2012, the Monsoon Forum has taken a multi-hazard approach, integrating issues on forecasts and warning information with concerns regarding geological hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis.

This forum – organised jointly by the Maldives Meteorological Service and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems – is geared as an opportunity for dialogue between hydro-meteorological scientists, who generate climate information and promote the application of forecasts and warning information for enhanced management of climate change risks.

Thoriq said that these meetings were crucial as different institutions have to anticipate possible impacts and develop a set of potential responses or management strategies to minimise them. He was also reported to have highlighted the importance of having a climate research institute in the Maldives.

In addition, the ministry recently held an international renewable energy investor’s conference, focusing on the development of solar energy, in a bid to transform the Maldives’ energy sector.

Held on March 26, the ministry reported that a total of 78 participants from government organisations, the World Bank, foreign consultants, and investors discussed photovoltaic systems at the conference.

The conference came after the government last week outlined it’s strategic aims for renewable energy in a proposal named ‘Accelerating Sustainable Private Investments in Renewable Energy programme’ (ASPIRE).

Published March 21 2014, this report detailed some of the difficulties faced by the Maldives, as well as future plans to increase the proportion of sustainable energy consumed in the country.

After the publication of the IPCC report, Thoriq stated that there was “no room at all for any hesitancy”.

“Bold and urgent actions are the order of the day. Now is the time for world leaders to show leadership, implement bold and urgent actions and avert future generations from impending danger before it’s too late. Humanity cannot afford further delay.”