'Please do not kill us': COP24 climate talks 'failing' and threatening survival of Maldives, leader warns

Mohamed Nasheed says his people want to live ‘in our own homelands... We don’t think that this is asking for much’

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Friday 14 December 2018 14:13
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Sir David Attenborough at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice: Climate change 'our greatest threat'

The failure of climate talks to produce meaningful results is threatening the very survival of small island nations, according to the head of the Maldives delegation at the COP24 summit.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed asked what the point of holding these annual UN events was if they did not produce any solutions.

The slow pace at which negotiations have progressed over the past two weeks stands in stark contrast to the urgency of warnings by the international scientific community.

Small island nations like the Maldives could be left uninhabitable as sea levels rise, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in October this threat will become considerably worse once warming rises over 1.5C.

Mr Nasheed said the inhabitants of his Indian Ocean nation want to live “in our own homelands, we want to live with our communities, with our culture, with our people”.

“We don’t think that this is asking for much… We are just only saying: please do not kill us,” he said.

Talks faced an obstacle over the weekend when the major oil producers Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the US objected to a motion to “welcome” the IPCC’s findings, which would mean tougher targets for fossil fuel cuts.

Critics condemned these “rogue nations” for pushing against the prevailing scientific viewpoint at such an urgent moment, when consensus is vital.

Mr Nasheed said: “There is a view among many of us that this is failing.”

As the costs of dealing with more extreme storms and flooding rise, president of Pacific island nation Vanuatu Ralph Regenvanu told attendees at COP24 his country was prepared to sue fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change damage.

Following delays, a draft text of a final agreement for the meeting emerged late on Thursday night after nearly two weeks of talks.

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Negotiators have now gathered to discuss the draft in talks that are expected to overrun beyond the expected finish day of Friday and well into the weekend.

Questions still hover over troublesome nations like the US and Saudi Arabia, as well as the involvement of big emerging economies like China and India.

Some key issues such as financing climate mitigation still remain unresolved, and campaigners are concerned the final agreement could be watered down in an effort to reach a conclusion in time.

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