Comment: Climate change a real and imminent threat to the Maldives

Climate change is a very real and imminent threat to the Maldives, the smallest nation in Asia, which lost 20 islands during the 2004 tsunami. Since then, the government has gone strictly carbon neutral in a bid to protect its population from the rising sea.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has described climate change as “perhaps the 21st century’s biggest foreign policy challenge”.

He has stressed that “a world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the United Nations will not be met”.

Indeed, the UN Charter makes clear that a central purpose of that organisation is to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character”.

Climate change is just such a problem – and its impacts and costs fall disproportionally on developing countries. That is deeply unfair. So it is only right that in Cancun last December the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reaffirmed the commitment from developed countries in Copenhagen in December 2009 jointly to mobilise $100bn of climate finance a year by 2020, to address the adaptation needs of developing countries and help them to limit their carbon emissions.

The UK takes this commitment very seriously and recognises the need for urgent action. The British Government has therefore allocated £2.9bn of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to international climate finance for the period 2011/12 to 2014/15 (including our Fast Start commitment). This will be administered through our International Climate Fund (ICF), which has just been formally established. We expect to spend about 50 percent of the total on adaptation in poor and vulnerable countries, with around 30% for work to reduce carbon emissions and 20% for forestry.

We have three overall priorities for ICF funding, which we will deliver through both bilateral and multilateral channels in a way which maximises its impact and value for money:

  • To show that building low carbon, climate resilient growth at scale is both feasible and desirable;
  • To support adaptation in poor countries and help build an effective international framework on climate change;
  • To drive innovation, creating new partnerships with the private sector to support low carbon climate resilient growth

The ICF will also fund the climate element of an Advocacy Fund to support the poorest countries to take part more effectively in international negotiations; this will be formally established later this year.

This UK funding will play an important role in helping to mobilise ambitious global action on climate change. But the UK is the only major donor so far to have made specific finance commitments up to 2015. More is needed to meet the Copenhagen commitment of $100bn a year by 2020. We look to other donors too to make significant and ambitious financial pledges, and we look to business to play an important role, since we expect the target to be reached through a mix of public and private finance.

As the Stern Review in 2006 made clear, the clock is ticking. With every passing year, the global cost of effective action to tackle climate change grows greater. The time to act is now.

John Rankin is the British High Commissioner to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


11 thoughts on “Comment: Climate change a real and imminent threat to the Maldives”

  1. For us climate change is a extremely useful for unpopular leaders to get popularity in the international community..first President Gayoom now President Nasheed.

  2. Dear Mr. High Commissioner, when and how has the Maldivian government "since gone carbon neutral" as you state? Govt offices still waste paper printing countless unrequired prints and photocopies, govt owned corporations such as the Bank of Maldives Ltd waste paper at their ATMs and bank branches, and others such as MTCC waste even more with their ferry tickets. In addition to this, there has been no increase in duties on the import of fuel guzzling vehicles to curb the usage of such vehicles, nor is there any incentive for people to import more efficient and environmentally frendly hybrid or electrical vehicles. No incentives, such as import duty waivers, are given to build more environmentally friendly buildings, nor are there any incentives for people to invest in alternative energy sources such as the abandunt sunshine that Maldives is bless with. Furthermore, not a single alternative energy project talked about by the govt has gotten beyond that, just talk. Granted, the Maldivian govt has made some pretty attention grabbing headlines with stunts like the underwater cabinet meeting; but beyond that we have not seen any committed work within the bounds of reason and reality proposed and worked on by the govt. We just have a target of becoming the world's first carbon neutral country by 2020, which unless the govt isn't counting, is just 9 short years away, with more than a few decades worth of work and public awareness to be undertaken before such an objective can even remotely be successful. Maldives might sink, it might not. But now that we're all talking about it, might be a grand idea for the govt to step up and take some action, not least of which would be to come up with a strategic action plan for carbon neutrality.

  3. least the government could start with very little afford and collect a bit of money, giving order to the police to fine all the people in cars and pick-ups, parked all around with the motor on, just because the AC must keep the drivers cool!! this is a badly contribute to the already strong polluted air of this "carbon neutral" capital.

  4. Here's a few ways the govt could work on these issues.
    1. A Certiicate of Entitlement like the one used in Singapore, which could help decrease or at best regulate the number of vehicles being driven around Male'.
    2. An energy demand utilities management system to encourage people to use less electricity, especially during peak hours.
    3. Introducing atleast a semblance of a public transportation system, such as buses to replace the usage of all the taxis.
    4. A regulation that would encourage current car owners, especially taxis to change over to hybrid vehicles by a specific year.

    I remember that the esteemed Minister for Housing and Environment Mr. Mohamed Aslam talked about a "Back to bike" initiative. Sadly, this was one of those great publicity stunts that our govt has become well known for, and ended up being a one day event which didn't go any further than that. You'd think that atleast policy makers like Mr. Aslam could go that one step extra.

    If we want to make Maldives a greener more carbon neutral country, we have to have a govt that is willing to actually do something about it, instead of just fancy talk. Right about now, that just doesn't seem likely, yellow or blue.

  5. @says,
    I agree with your views. Walking shud be encouraged in Male' specially at night with wider pavements and designated pedestrian areas. Roadside vehicle parking should b charged. Electric taxis should be in association with charging stations ( which could be with solar PV). Male' council could introduce a free electric tram within the business tourist area. Etc, etc!

  6. Zayad is absolutely right.......its all publisity stunt........has Aslam or his useless deputy done anything....he seems to grow fatter day by day.

    they get consultancies indiectly through their friends in UNDP and in the end its a report after a workshop in Holiday Inn.

    Until crooks in Environment Ministry and UNDP are not removed nothing can be done....have you noticed its the same staff rotating for a decade in UNDP....

    Where is the he had an advisory team, and he was troting round the globe...what happened...for a few meters away to his office he goes in a car..he faile in UNICEF Afghanistan now here.........

  7. Do people need to drive up to their homes? The very narrow lanes in Male' should be completely traffic (no cycles either) free, turned into walkways with plants and flowers. The homes are one to 3 minutes walk from the end of the lane where if necessary, the taxis can stop to let passengers out. That can turn Male' into a very green city.
    Plots of land below 700 sq feet that is owned and not yet developed should be taken back by the state and replaced with an apartment of that value. The replaced plots can be turned into parkings, little gardens or just planting trees, or if a couple of such plots lie together, built together for decent accommodation. We need good planning and assertive action to change Male' into a nice decent livable place for people.

  8. Mr Commisioner...Its clear that climate change and rising temperatures are beyound the control of a little tiny country like Maldives..Its time to stop talking about this nonsense bcs nothing can be done...I say forget about carbon neutral....We have more important issues like economic blackhole we are in right now...We need to import more oil, more construction , more reef/lagoon or whatever for industrial works, more factories if possible, no import duties for industrial machinaries , cars and other means of transport, we need a crude oil refinary..crude oil is cheap already the price of diesel is expensive if we could refine it here our bills would be cheaper...We cant sacrifice our growth for environment when developed countires are unwilling to do the same...If the climate is getting too hot just turn the AC lower and relax....

  9. God almighty have created more that enough resources why limit ourselves just because of environment..I think god wants us to consume

  10. Commendable efforts on the part of the Maldives in setting out an example to others, BUT, so long as huge nations such as India and China continue their economic and population growths, their contributions to climate change will more than cancel out any such carbon neutral schemes.


Comments are closed.