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The Maldivian President is asking nations most vulnerable to climate change to take the lead in reducing global warming.The leader of a country threatened by rising sea levels slammed rich countries at a two-day conference for doing too little to prevent climate change.
Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed says countries like his that are most at risk from global warming are looking not for what he called a "global suicide pact," but rather a "global survival pact."
Maldives is hosting a two-day conference of 11 nations which are most at risk from global warming.
Opening the conference, the Maldivian leader said Monday that the issue of climate change should not be considered equal to other international issues.
"It is easy to assume that it can be solved by a messy political compromise between powerful states," said Mohamed Nasheed. "But the fact of the matter is, we cannot negotiate with the laws of physics. We cannot cut a deal with mother nature."
President Nasheed says although wealthy nations have pledged to take steps to halt global warming, they have not committed to carbon reduction targets that will make this possible.
The Maldivian leader wants countries like his to embrace green technology, switch to clean energy, and show the way to those who are opposed to change. He says if those with the least pollution start doing the most, rich nations will not have an excuse for inaction.
"In my mind a block of carbon neutral, developing nations could change the outcome of Copenhagen," he said. "At the moment every country arrives at the negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible and never to make commitments unless someone else does first. This is the logic of a mad house, a recipe for collective suicide."
Earlier this year, Maldives pledged to become the world's first carbon neutral nation. It has begun construction of a wind farm to supply nearly half its electricity.
Many of the islands that make up the Maldives rise little more than one meter above sea level, and could disappear under the sea if global temperatures continue to rise. Last month, the Maldives Cabinet held an underwater meeting to draw attention to its plight.
The other countries represented at the conference include African nations such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, which face the threat of desertification. Mountainous countries like Nepal and Bhutan, which are at risk from melting glaciers, and low lying nations like Bangladesh were also represented.