Maldives leader skips foreign trip to save peoples’ money

MALE, September 7, 2009 (AFP) – The Maldives, whose fight against rising sea levels has become a cause celebre for environmentalists, said Monday it would have to skip UN climate change talks in Copenhagen this year to save money. Some campaigners said the negotiations would be weakened if the Maldives were missing, given their vocal campaigning for greenhouse gas caps and their vital interest in a deal being reached.

“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.

Nasheed said he was hoping that the world’s leading countries would agree to take steps at the conference that would help low-lying nations escape submersion.

“My message to the Copenhagen summit is that there is hope. We can reverse the effects of warming,” he said at his seafront office in highly congested Male, the densely populated one-square-mile (2.6 square kilometres) capital island.

He said he hoped that the summit would focus on renewable energy and transferring cleaner technology to dev