President Mohamed Nasheed has said it was his hope that the tipping points in people’s conscience would provoke citizens into action, before climate change tips us beyond the point of no return. The President made this statement in his lecture at the Royal Commonwealth Society yesterday.

In his lecture, the President said “if the world can’t save the Maldives today, we may be unable to save London, New York or Hong Kong tomorrow.” Noting that the Copenhagen Summit to be held at later this year was a unique opportunity for the world to push forward a commitment to tackle climate change, the President called on the world not to miss this historic opportunity.

“We are no longer going to watch and wait for the world to take a stance. This is why the Maldives announced two weeks ago our plans to be the world’s first carbon neutral country,” said President Nasheed.

Highlighting the government’s efforts towards achieving carbon neutrality, the President said that by switching from oil to a hundred percent renewable energy production within a decade, the Maldives would no longer be a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Further, he said that the Maldives has put together a carbon eco plan, an advisory council on climate change and begun to realign all of government policies, procedures and regulations to incorporate this goal.

In his lecture, the President also emphasized on the democratic changes brought about to the Maldives.

Speaking in this regard, the President said although “home grown democracy according to a country’s traditions and beliefs was not very common, especially in the Islamic world,” the Maldives has been able to successfully transform to a democracy.

However, he said, though democracy has already been established, there existed a vast array of problems that should be tackled. Islamic fundamentalism, an increasing heroin epidemic, crime and gang violence, and lack of affordable housing were some such problems that the President highlighted. “Democracy, I believe, is the best anti-dote to extremism.” Said the President. He also said that since the democracy movement started, the rapid rise of extremism has been checked.

“It is our firm belief that the way to a tolerant and liberal Maldives, indeed the way to counter the narratives of extremists that seek to destroy our way of life, is not through the bullet or the bomb but through the ballot box.” Said President Nasheed.

During the President’s visit to the Royal Commonwealth Society, he also met with M. John Ashton, the British Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change.