Environment Politics

Maldives to set more ambitious targets for climate action, says Mohamed Nasheed

NEW DELHI: Amidst threat of severe flooding in wake of rising sea-levels, the island nation of Maldives has decided to revise its Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) to reduce carbon emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

NDCs are long-term climate action goals set by countries which are signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The climate accord requires countries to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C.

“The highest point in the Maldives is merely six feet above the sea-level. If global temperatures rise by more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, our existence would be in doubt. So, Maldives will strengthen its NDCs this year. The new targets will be based on our commitment to aggressively promote solar and renewable energy,” said Maldives former President, Mohamed Nasheed, who was in New Delhi to address a public lecture on ‘Climate Change: The way ahead’, here on Thursday.

The announcement comes in wake of the increasing pressure on countries to review their NDCs and set up more ambitious targets for climate action, as impacts of global warming become more evident. 2018 witnessed a spate of extreme weather events across the globe.

While applauding India’ stance at the latest Conference of Parties (CoP) on climate action held in Poland, Nasheed said India is the biggest hope for countries in South Asia to combat climate change.

“In 2009, when the Maldives was rooting for urgent action on climate change, India was on opposing side. Its position has changed over the years. Now, India is our most constructive partner. It is working to combat climate change and cares about safeguarding the plant and its neighbors in South Asia,” said the former President.

India had committed to lower emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% compared to 2005 levels by 2030 and is already on its way to meet the targets. The latest Biennial Update report (BUI-2), submitted by India to the United Nations (UN) shows that the country has already reduced its emission intensity by 21% from 200 to 2014.

Among other goals, India has committed to increase total cumulative electricity generation from fossil-free energy sources to 40% by 2030 and create additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons through additional forest and tree cover.

Among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Maldives is currently negotiating ways to prepare the country for the impact of rising sea-levels, which includes setting aside 13% of its annual budget for adaptation measures.

“In the past, the action mostly involved building concrete sea-walls and water-breakers on islands. But it is not economical, and it damages the coral reefs. We should work with nature, not against it,” he said, adding that the decision to replant vast areas Mangroves would be a better option.

He was also critical of the United Nations talks on climate change and said, there was an urgent need to reform the whole process. “Half of the problem is that we are still calling for emission cuts and most countries are still reluctant to do that. Instead, we should demand an increase in investment in clean energy and renewable. This would be a better strategy,” he said.

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