President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed is one of the most outspoken spokespersons on the immediate need to end the climate impasse (over caps on carbon emissions) between the developed West and emerging countries like China and India. He believes that climate is now becoming a security than an environmental issue.
Nasheed is more worried than other heads of states since he fears (based on predictions by scientists) that his island nation might cease to exist owing to rise in sea levels triggered by climate change. In an article published in The New York Times just a month after he got elected in December 2008, Nasheed wrote that "for the first time in the country's history, the Maldives faces a new threat. The new danger is of apocalyptic, existential proportions, and it looms silently, invisibly and menacingly over our azure horizon." He brought the extreme vulnerability of his country to the global centre stage by holding an underwater meeting of his Cabinet.
On his second visit to India this week since he became President, Nasheed seemed optimistic that the forthcoming Copenhagen Summit in December 2009 can pave the way forward for a climate treaty. There is a space for a common narrative between countries ranged on either side of the environmental logjam, he said.
But creating that narrative is not going to be easy, he knows. In an interview to a leading Indian newspaper The Hindu, he also sounded skeptical whether an agreement could be reached by nations within the current UNFCC ((United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). "The whole UNFCC of negotiations in Copenhagen is so traditional. It is as if you have just ended a war and are talking of repatriation. Or you are having a crusade on splitting the spoils. You cannot cut deals with Mother Nature, you cannot negotiate with laws of physics.
A deal could happen, he felt, only "if we can start thinking out of the box and see how we may be able to have an additional framework of things."
The Western countries cannot ask "dynamically fast developing" countries like India not to produce or consume energy in order to control carbon emissions. The better option for the rich countries is to invest in renewable energy initiatives and facilitate transfer of technology to developing countries, Nasheed added.
With just about five weeks or more to go for the Copenhagen Summit, Nasheed's views could add more strength to the efforts to sew up a new, pathbreaking treaty that could try and save the world.