Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, widely regarded as a climate champion, will lead Male’s official delegation at the UN climate change conference in Poland. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih nominated Mr. Nasheed to head the Maldivian team, according to a statement. Mr. Nasheed’s participation signals a potential shift in the Maldives’s policy. “At the COP 15 summit in Copenhagen in 2009, the Maldives unilaterally announced a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% over 10 years. However, subsequent administrations abandoned this progressive stance,” said Mr. Nasheed’s office in a statement.
More recently, some negotiators have raised concerns over the island nation’s apparent alignment to its key development partner Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia reportedly resisted the adoption of a key UN report on limiting global warming to 1.5° C, it “backed down in the last minute”, AFP reported last month. Zero-carbon growth Mr. Nasheed said he looked forward to the Maldives becoming “a leader in zero-carbon development”, driven by alternatives such as solar power.
“While reducing emissions are important, for so many of small states and low-lying countries, adaptation is now immediate. This adaptation must be biological and soft; it must be economically and financially viable,” he told The Hindu over telephone. Before entering active politics, Mr. Nasheed made global headlines as a campaigner on climate change. While in office, he famously held the world’s first underwater Cabinet meeting in October 2009, to raise awareness and urge all countries to cut down their carbon emissions.
Delegates representing nearly 200 countries are taking part in COP24, or the Katowice Climate Change Conference, that began earlier this week as the UN’s follow-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.