Maldives becomes fourth island state to ratify Paris climate deal

Environment minister says new research on potential sea level rise makes approval of UN pact vital for vulnerable low-lying countries 

Many of the Maldives islands are at risk from rising sea levels (Pic: Nattu/Flickr)

Many of the Maldives islands are at risk from rising sea levels (Pic: Nattu/Flickr)

By Ed King

The Maldives has become the fourth small island state to announce it has ratified the Paris climate agreement, two weeks before an official UN signing ceremony in New York.

Parliament voted to approve the pact on Tuesday, which commits countries to limit global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and target net zero carbon emissions before 2100.

“It is telling that some of the country’s most vulnerable to the crisis were the first to approve its ratification,” said Maldives environment minister Thoriq Ibrahim.

“We hope the rest of the world follows our example and, even more importantly, moves expeditiously to implement climate solutions.”

The decision follows those of the Marshall Islands, Fiji and Palau in recent weeks.

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For the Paris deal to come into force, 55 countries covering 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions need to sign and formally approve the agreement.

The US, India and China have signalled their intention to complete these two tasks by the close of 2016, while the EU – the world’s fourth largest emitter – has committed to sign on 22 April.

Last week an influential Malaysian think tank called on developing countries to hold off from signing this year, arguing they could gain more political leverage from richer nations.

But in a statement Ibrahim said recent reports that sea level rise could accelerate over this century underlined the need for all governments to decarbonise their economies.

“The unsettling news about sea level rise shows the wisdom of that argument and underscores the desperate need to dramatically cut emissions immediately,” he said.

“Ratification is just the start. Bold action must quickly follow.”

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