The President of the Maldives called for urgent action on climate change Wednesday, saying that global warming was threatening the very survival of the country’s many low-lying islands.
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said that 80 of the 1,200 islands in the Maldives had experienced tidal surges this year. Most of the islands in the country are no higher than one meter above sea level.
At a development and climate change conference in Lisbon, Gayoom said: “Never in our documented history have so many islands been affected to such an extent. These surges were a grim reminder of the devastating tsunami of 2004 and a clear warning of future disasters.”
If the UN IPCC estimate that sea levels will rise between 18 and 59 centimeters by 2100 is correct, 80% of the Maldives will be partially submerged by the end of the century. Gayoom urged countries to act even if they are not directly effected at the moment, saying: “Unless climate change is addressed quickly and effectively your fate could be similar.”
The UN estimates that 50 million people will become environmental refugees, people fleeing their homeland due to environmental conditions, by the end of the decade.
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