Page last updated at 22:19 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 23:19 UK

Maldives to miss climate summit

Maldives atoll (SPL)
Scientists say the Maldives face a serious threat from climate change

The president of the Maldives has said that, even though his country is under threat from climate change, he cannot afford to go to a summit on the issue.

President Mohamed Nasheed said his nation would only go to the December talks in Copenhagen if someone offered to pay for the trip.

He said the Maldives needed to be defended from the effects of global warming and rising sea levels.

But he added that the country would have to do much of the work itself.

"We can't go to Copenhagen because we don't have the money," President Nasheed told journalists.

World leaders at the summit are aiming to create a new agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Security issue

No part of the island state's territory lies more than 2.5m above sea level, and 50 of its islands are already severely eroding.

President Mohamed Nasheed
Mr Nasheed has criticised what he sees as a blame game at past summits

The president said this showed that climate change was not just an environment issue, but a security issue as well.

"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.

"Now, the Maldives is a frontline state."

The country is planning a major clean-up of its technology and the president said parliament will shortly consider a "green tax" of three dollars per tourist per day.

President Nasheed, a former human rights activist who came to power 10 months ago, said climate change summits were at times "childish" because countries tended to blame each other over past misdeeds rather than think practically.

He hoped the Copenhagen summit would come out with positive plans, like renewable energy promotion, rather than stressing what he called negative ones like capping carbon emissions.

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