Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Political upheaval should not affect Maldive climate policy - official

BANGKOK (AlertNet) – A change of leaders in the Maldives should not affect the country’s much-praised climate policy and the country remains committed to becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country, a top environmental official told AlertNet.

The Maldives, a collection of picture-perfect islands and small atolls in the Indian Ocean favoured by well-heeled tourists, is one of the world's countries most vulnerable to climate change.

It is the lowest-lying country on the planet, with an average ground level of 1.5 metres (5 feet) above sea level. Over the last century, sea levels have risen by about 20 cm (8 inches) and further rises could submerge the Maldives.

Ibrahim Naeem, head of the country’s Environmental Protection Agency, said the recent political upheaval which saw the overthrow of presidentMohamed Nasheed, a well-known climate change campaigner, would not derail the Maldives’ leadership on climate issues.

“True, Nasheed has been very vocal and very popular with western society. He's really a good man advocating for (action on) climate change and the impacts we're facing in the Maldives,” Naeem told AlertNet.

“But I don't think this change will bring any change to the climate policy because it is (Nasheed’s) vice-president who's ruling the country now,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of the Second Asia Pacific Climate Adaptation Forum in Bangkok. More