September 8, 2009

Denmark Vows To Help Maldives Get To Copenhagen

Just one day after the president of Maldives declared his country would not be attending the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark announced plans to help the struggling nation.

"We can't go to Copenhagen because we don't have the money," President Mohamed Nasheed told reporters on Monday.

The Maldives is key to the equation because a 2007 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that a rise in sea levels by 7.2 to 23.2 inches by 2100 would be enough to render the country uninhabitable.

"They are the most vulnerable and if they don't participate and get heard then obviously it's bad for the whole negotiation process," said Kushal Yadav from the Centre for Science and Environment think-tank in New Delhi.

"There should be a fund ... which will sponsor their visit," he added.

On Tuesday, Denmark answered the call by announcing that it would help Maldives pay for the trip to the summit in December.

"In the past two years we have allocated 2.5 million euros to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change so that the poorest states and islands can attend the Copenhagen summit with three delegates each," Cooperation Minister Ulla Toernaes told AFP.

He added that it is "clear that the Maldives, which is one of the worst affected nations by climate change, must take part in the Copenhagen summit as their future depends on it."

Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, has said that he hopes the summit will result in new plans for renewable energy instead of caps in carbon emissions, while helping developing countries gain access to cleaner energy sources.

More than 80 percent of land in the Maldives sit less than one meter above sea level.

"I keep saying this: if the Europeans thought it was important to defend Poland in the '30s and '40s - in any threat you really have to look after your frontline states," said Nasheed.

"Now, the Maldives is a frontline state."


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