BE2C2 Report — Small island states and nations with developing economies pledged to take a stronger initiative in the fight against climate change, low-carbon leaders belonging to Alliance of Small Island States said.
According to Maldives’ local media reports, dozens of government ministers and senior officials met Friday in the tropical nation in the Indian Ocean (Maldives is composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands) to coordinate efforts on renewable energy development and other ways to stave off the impacts of a changing climate.
Similar to other islands in the Maldives, capital Malé is barely one meter above sea level and most vulnerable to climate change in the Indian ocean region (IOR).
“Small island developing nations have been frontrunners in the global drive to scale-up renewables,” Adnan Amin, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said in an emailed statement. “This meeting is further evidence of their collective commitment to strengthen the momentum of the global energy transition as they pursue economic growth, energy security and increased national resilience.”
Amin’s organization estimates small island developing states, or SIDS, have a total installed renewable energy capacity of about 2 gigawatts, with at least 6 GW in the pipeline.
According to IREA, several SIDS have made commitments to reach a 100 percent share for renewable energy in their electricity mix.
One gigawatt of power is the rough equivalent of two coal-fired power plants, or enough to meet the energy demands of around 500,000 homes.
“In the wake of a deadly hurricane season in the Caribbean and at a time when the resolve to tackle the climate crisis has been called into question, small islands are sending the world a clear message: we are seizing the promise of renewable energy to grow our economies today and build a better future for tomorrow,” Thoriq Ibrahim, the Maldives Environment Minister and chair of Alliance of Small Island States, said in a statement.
Related article: Sinking Island Seeks Seat in Security Council
With many of the low-lying Pacific Islands facing the earliest risks from the impacts of climate change, a report from the ADB found that, if left unchecked, climate change could lead to the loss of about $52 billion per year for regional economies. With rising protectionism from countries like the United States, however, consultant group Frost & Sullivan said the economies in the Asia-Pacific will take up the mantle as a means to buffer against the impacts of global policy shifts.
In the Pacific region, the Marshall Islands has a population of about 68,000 spread over 34 low-lying coral atolls, comprising 1,156 individual islands and islets. The average height of the islands is about 6 feet above sea level.
Already, it is experiencing the effects of climate change, mostly from rising sea levels which have caused flooding and inundation of crops. Government officials said that if climate change continues as it is now, there could be 2 million people from the Pacific region who will become refugees.
At the UN General Assembly meet last month, Maldives called on the world-body to reform itself to better address the needs of small island states and global challenges such as climate change which presents a challenge for every island in the Maldives, which all lie on the sea level.
Climate change ‘big unknown,’ says Game of Thrones star in Maldives
The popular TV serial Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister in the hit series, has called climate change “the big unknown” and warned of its devastating consequences.
Coster-Waldau made the remarks at the end of a three-day visit to the Maldives, which is facing a rise in its sea levels and the bleaching of its coral reefs.
The actor, who was in the country as a United Nations Development Program Goodwill Ambassador, visited an atoll where several UNDP projects are located.
“Climate change is the big unknown because if we don’t get that under control it could put everything else in jeopardy. If the temperature rises more, the consequences can be absolutely devastating and then we won’t have the resources.”
“It’s been amazing,” he said of his Maldives experience. “It’s been very intense. I learnt about the challenges Maldives faces when it comes to climate change – beach erosion, the danger of flooding – and the projects that try to deal with that.”
Prior to his visit, he addressed a fan theory of White Walkers as a climate change metaphor, stating it was easy to draw parallels between the slowly advancing army of the dead that destroys everything in its path and the environmental phenomenon.
He said current lifestyles were unsustainable and that changes needed to be made.
“I think it’s interesting to see why we do the things we do and at a global scale we’ve been very successful but we’ve also been very stupid. The way we’ve been living on this planet is not sustainable. We’ve reached a point where we have to make some changes. I also see this as a huge opportunity to create a better world for the future.”