President spreads climate change message

President Mohamed Nasheed was presented with a ‘Not Stupid’ award yesterday for his efforts to tackle climate change at the global premiere of the Age of Stupid.

The Age of Stupid was premiered yesterday in a solar-powered tent in New York and was attended by A-list celebrities and world leaders alike.

The president has fast become the moral voice of climate change after announcing his plan to make the Maldives the first carbon neutral country in the world earlier this year.

The film is a docudrama starring Oscar-nominated Pete Posthethwaite as an old man living in 2055 in a world ravaged by climate change. In the film, Posthethwaite looks back on archival footage from 2008 asking the all-important question: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

The premiere was held a day before the climate change forum at the 64th UN General Assembly where world leaders hope to begin negotiations leading up to talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December.

Positive thinking

Hours after the premiere, leaders from small island states gathered to demand the world step up to the challenge of climate change and global temperatures be sharply reduced from targets recently set by industrialised countries.

At the high-level summit of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the president’s call for the declaration to be couched in positive rather than negative language was unanimously passed.

Nasheed said while the climate change debate had so far centred on a ‘prohibition list’ a ‘positive list’ of actions would be equally effective. “If we go to Copenhagen with this line of thinking, we can’t achieve anything.”

He added countries should focus on investing in green technologies rather than solely on cutting carbon emissions and urged small island states to speak with a ‘singular voice’ at Copenhagen.

The declaration calls for a cap in temperatures of 1.5 degrees as well as financing to help islands adapt to global warming.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts temperature rises of between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees celsius within the next century.

Climate change is already delivering damage not of our making,” the Maldives president, Mohamed Nasheed, told leaders, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

“Should we, leaders of the most vulnerable and exposed countries, be asking our people to sign on to significantly greater degrees of misery and livelihood insecurity, essentially becoming climate change guinea pigs?”

Tillman Thomas, the president of Grenada in the Caribbean, told Reuters failure to act at Copenhagen would amount to ‘benign genocide’.

Small island states are among the countries most vulnerable to sea level rises and flooding from melting ice caps, as well as among the least responsible.

Against all odds

In another event, Nasheed addressed a rally of hundreds of labour, environmental, student and community activists calling for action on climate change yesterday. The rally was organised to kick-off World Climate Week.

In his speech, Nasheed highlighted the importance of grassroots movements to pressure leaders to take action on climate change.

“I’m not saying this because I have read this from a book, but I’m saying this because I’m living it. We have changed a thirty-year dictatorship against all odds,â” he said.

The president said good governance was essential to climate change as corrupt governments would not bring positive outcomes.

Nasheed said he believed humankind was not ‘stupid’ enough to ignore climate change and destroy the earth for future generations.


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Maryam Omidi

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