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Rousing speech by President Nasheed of the Maldives at COP15

Dear all, here is the full text of the three-minute speech President Nasheed of the Maldives gave yesterday at the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen.

We are now in the final days of this process.

This is the endgame, in more ways than one.

The negotiations have been fraught, time-consuming and often difficult.

I think we should celebrate the progress made so far: no-one expected such an historic endeavour to be easy.

I am still optimistic that we can leave this meeting with a planet saving deal.

The AOSIS group has proposed a text for this purpose, and the Maldives will do its utmost to help make this outcome a reality.

For us this is more than just another meeting.

This is a matter of life and death.

The science is clear.

Carbon concentrations higher than 350 parts per million, and temperature rises above 1.5 degrees, will submerge my country
dissolve our coral reefs
turn our oceans to acid
and destabilize the planets climate.

Anyone who says that agreeing these numbers is impossible, is also saying it is impossible to save my nation.

This I cannot accept.

[Ladies and gentlemen]

To make these 1.5 and 350 goals a reality, the IPCC states that global emissions must peak by 2015 and fall rapidly thereafter.

The United States says it opposes the 350 target because the technologies do not exist to make it a reality.

But I know there is no limit to American ingenuity.

This is the country that first announced it would send a man to the moon, and then worked round the clock to build the Apollo spacecraft.

Get the politics right, and the technology will follow.

Technical creativity can make great leaps for mankind but political leadership must provide the springboard.

For global emissions to peak by 2015 as science demands, industrialized countries must raise their level of ambition.

They must commit to collective reductions of 40% by 2020, and 95% by 2050.

But developing countries must also do their bit.

The rich world may have caused the climate crisis, by filling our atmosphere with pollution.

But two wrongs dont make a right.

If all parties stick to their current lack of ambition at these negotiations, we will reach 650 parts per million and world will warm up to four degrees by the century end.

And the fact is, that the majority of future emissions rises are projected to come from developing countries.

I therefore urge large developing emitters, including our good friend China, to join me in recognising that reducing emissions is not a shared sacrifice, but a common opportunity.

I am sure if China shows leadership, others will follow.

After all, it is not carbon we want but development.

It is not coal we want but electricity.

It is not oil we want but transport.

Low-carbon alternatives now exist, to provide every good and service that we need for development and prosperity.

Developed countries created the climate crisis; developing countries must not turn it into a calamity.

Therefore I invite the leaders of big developing countries to recognize their responsibilities.

I urge them to come forward at Copenhagen with quantifiable and internationally verifiable actions, to reduce their emissions 30% below business as usual by 2020.

Let me be plain: we urgently need to move forward.

Giving us intensity targets that are close to business as usual, is not acceptable at this stage.

[Ladies and gentlemen]

I believe that you should not ask others to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

The Maldives has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2020.

And I have been hugely encouraged by the steps taken by least-developed countries, and small island states, to begin greening their own economies.

At the recent Climate Vulnerable Forum in Male, 11 states pledged to raise their ambitions in leading the world towards carbon neutrality.

This is an enormous opportunity to reduce future emissions before fossil-fuel infrastructure is built.

But it cannot be done without financial support from rich countries.

I say to the industrialized world: you have the finances and much of the technology.

Please help us go green.

I am also encouraged by regional climate initiatives, in places like California and Quebec, where true leadership is being shown outside the realm of the nation-state.

[Ladies and gentlemen]

Kyoto divided the world.

It divided us between rich and poor, developed and developing, Annex 1 and non-Annex 1.

Our task now is to unite the world, behind the shared vision of low-carbon growth.

The Maldives is trying to lead the way.

I call on every country in the room to join us, not just for the sake of the Maldives, but for all of us who live on this beautiful planet.


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