Environment Politics

Maldives Minister of Environment Calls for ‘More Ambition’ to Tackle Climate Change at Conclusion of COP23

Small islands introducing some of the most ambitious clean energy plans in the world

The Environment Minister of the Maldives is calling on developed countries to honour their commitments to correcting the effects of climate change. Speaking at the conclusion of the twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) in Bonn, the minister said that an unprecedented year of weather – including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria; wildfires in the US and Europe; mass flooding in South Asia, and West Africa; and an unyielding drought in East Africa – has given the issue a renewed urgency.

“Rich nations – those who have benefitted from vast historical Green House Gas emissions – are indebted to humanity’s future. And they must honour that obligation,” said Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Energy in the Maldives. “If they do not, nations like mine will suffer through no fault of our own.”

Climate change has ravaged Small Island Developing States, according to Minister Ibrahim. As COP23 concluded in Bonn, he called for the urgent implementation of plans and more funds to correct the ravages of climate change.

“As the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and in my capacity as the Minister of Environment of the Maldives, I call on our developed international partners to own their responsibility.”

The landmark 2015 Paris Agreement acknowledged that Green House Gas (GHG) reductions should be tied to historical emissions.

“Now, in Bonn, we must figure out how exactly each nation implements its Nationally Determined Contributions, as well mechanisms to monitor the level of reductions. The framework and solutions are known,” said Minister Ibrahim. “We just need action.”

The Maldivian Minister said that talking is not enough.

“The latest UNEP Gap report states it is not too late to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Yet it makes for uncomfortable reading. It identifies an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition.

“Quibbling over important issues such as financing should be avoided. We are talking about lives, not bottom lines,” said Minister Ibrahim. “Climate change is a problem that belongs to all of us, not just political officials.”

Minister Ibrahim said that developed countries must reduce their outputs.

“Collectively, industrialised countries account for close to three-quarters of global emissions. Yet on average, they are set to miss their targets on current trajectories. If they do not start to act in line with their commitments, it will seriously hamper global efforts to save our planet. The rest of the world simply cannot afford such procrastination,” the Maldivian Minister warned.

“We need more ambition. The world’s current pledges for GHG cuts is just a third of that needed to keep world temperatures below a 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. If we stay at current levels, the opportunity to keep temperatures below the optimal 1.5 °C – as stated in the Paris Agreement – will also rapidly close,” he said.

“When spelt out like this, it sounds a lot. But we are talking about nothing less than the future of the planet. With every day that passes, these issues take on a deeper urgency. This leaves little room for compromise. But with political resolve, I am confident we will make progress in all these areas at COP23. And when we do, then we will have a joyous occasion for celebration.”

Small islands contribute a minuscule fraction of global emissions and yet have taken the lead in committing to some of the most ambitious clean energy plans in the world. Last month, The Government of the Maldives, in its capacity as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hosted the inaugural high-level meeting of the Initiative for Renewable Island Energy (IRIE) on October 10-11. The meeting was attended by 17 energy and environment ministers from the AOSIS membership around the world.

“Small island developing nations have been frontrunners in the global drive to scale-up renewables,” said Adnan Z Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “We are committed to supporting the renewable energy ambitions of our island partners, through the SIDS Lighthouses initiative, as they take their energy transformation to the next level.”

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