Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Maldives anger at climate inertia

By Charles Haviland
BBC News

The Maldives is the world's lowest lying country

The president of the Maldives has strongly criticised the world's rich countries for doing too little to stem climate change.

Mohamed Nasheed said there was so little money offered to vulnerable nations that it was like arriving at an earthquake with a dustpan and brush.

He was opening a high-level two-day gathering of countries deemed especially at risk from global warming.

The Maldives government says the islands face disaster if oceans rise.

This was an outspoken attack on the G8 rich countries by the leader of a country so low that rising sea levels threaten to submerge most or all of it by 2100. The Maldives stands about 2.1 metres (7ft) above sea level.

President Nasheed said the wealthy nations had pledged to halt temperature rises to 2C, but had refused to commit to the carbon targets that would deliver this.

Glaciers melting

Even with a 2C rise, he added, "we would lose the coral reefs… melt Greenland, and… my country would be on death row".

"I cannot accept this," he said.

The Maldives wants the countries at this gathering to follow its own example in aiming to go carbon neutral, switching to renewable energy and offsetting aviation pollution.

Such a bloc of developing countries could change the outcome of next month's climate change summit in Denmark, the president said, making it morally harder for rich countries not to take action themselves.

The Maldives is hosting about 10 nations vulnerable in different ways - African countries threatened by desertification, mountain ones whose glaciers are melting, large Asian ones affected by floods and typhoons, and other small islands like itself.

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