President Mohamed Nasheed has praised the outcome of climate change talks that concluded last week in Cancun, Mexico as helping to restore confidence in international commitments like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Writing to Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Nasheed said that the country “strongly supports” the Cancun Agreements and the impact they could have on helping countries all over the world in pursuing sustainable economies.
A source in the President’s Office told Minivan News that is was encouraging that the Cancun Agreements effectively “anchored” many of the main aspects of the Copenhagen Accord that the Maldives had supported in its own commitments to tackle impacts of climate change.
However, the source conceded that commitments outlined during the Cancun talks alone would not be enough to combat concerns held by the Maldives and other nations over the impacts climate change could have on rising sea levels and the wider ecosystem.
“Cancun alone won’t be enough,” said the source. “We need to do more in raising green awareness.”
The aspects that are thought to have been anchored in Cancun include securing emissions reductions from every developed and developing nation alongside the raising of US$100 billion in funding each year to aid sustainability initiatives based on low carbon developments for smaller economies from 2020.
For the Maldives, 2020 proves to be a very big year with President Nasheed committing to make the nation Carbon Neutral, an ambition the president last month claimed will be a disaster for the nation if not met.
However, the source said that Cancun did not require any significant changes in the Maldives green policy, claiming the country had made the most ambitious commitments of any nation in the world.
The exact nature of what this carbon neutral commitments will entail for the nation has not yet been outlined, with a “masterplan” currently being compiled with funding from the La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild. It is hoped that this “carbon Neutral Masterplan” will outline definite measures that can be adopted by other nations to follow in attempts to pursue more sustainable economies.
“Adopting carbon neutrals goals is not just important because climate change is a major global problem, which it is, but because it also makes economic sense,” added the President’s office spokesperson.
Climate change consideration
However, not everyone has been convinced that the potential impacts of climate change on rising sea levels within low lying nations like the Maldives are a vital issue to address for business.
Andrew Harrison, who was recently appointed CEO of GMR Male’ International Airport, said that at least from the viewpoint of insurance companies, the risk of sea levels increasing to a point that disrupted operations at the site were not even considered in its premiums.
“When we became involved in the bid process, we engaged three leading companies who are at the forefront of analysing geophysical activity, climate change and the impact rising sea levels,” he said. “Insurers are notorious for considering even unimaginable risks, so I can tell you that if no insurance company considers this in any of their policies for the Maldives, we think that the risk is pretty low.”
Speaking to Minivan News last month, environmental organisation Greenpeace said it believed the Maldives acted more as a symbol than a practical demonstration of how national development and fighting climate change can be mutually exclusive.
Wendel Trio, Climate Policy and Global Deal Coordinator for Greenpeace International, believed that the Maldives can nonetheless play an iconic role in promoting the potential benefits of adopting alternate energy programmes.
In looking specifically at the Maldives, the Greenpeace spokesperson accepted that the country is somewhat limited by its size in the role it can have as an advocate for more sustainable business and lifestyles.