Climate Change at Copenhagen – Britain mounts a Trojan operation
The Europeans, especially the UK, have been at the forefront of diplomatic maneuvers to carve out a separate voice of small vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh and Maldives which would, in the name of strong global action, put pressure on India and China to take commitments. The UK government had recently part-funded and helped organize a meeting of this group, called the “Vulnerable 14″ countries, in Maldives. (via Cracks appear in G-77 bloc on Day One – Europe – World – The Times of India).
1. The Maldives jigsaw
The Maldives Government staged a dramatic PR coup to draw world media attention on climate change, by holding an underwater cabinet meeting. Nepal Government followed up with a cabinet meeting at the Himalayan foothills. These were in a long line of various other such PR stunts.
The PR agency for the Maldives Travel and Tourism Authority McCluskey International does seem to either bask in reflected glory – or is hinting at the authorship of this stunt. Apparently, Maldives has been at the forefront of climate change trip for some time. One journalist, from New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin, recounts his first encounter with Maldives representatives in
Toronto in 1988 to report on the First International Conference on the Changing Atmosphere. Most of the discussions centered on devising strategies to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from automobiles, power plants, and the burning of tropical forests. Among those in attendance was Hussein Manikfan, who holds the title Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations from the republic of Maldives. At first it seemed odd to find a representative from the Maldives at the meeting. The country, a sprinkling of 1,190 coral islets in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka, has no tropical forests, hardly any automobiles, and little industry beyond the canning of bonito.
Well coached, when Manikfan was asked what was he doing in Toronto, a slick and dramatic answer was available.
Why was he in Toronto? “To find out how much longer my country will exist,” was his simple reply.
Such answers and sound-bites have been a recurring and regular Maldives phenomenon.
Media management and Maldives
The hallmark of the Maldives’ climate change campaign has been it slick PR. Dramatic statements, intriguing sound bites, the Maldives’ campaign was beyond the common bureaucratic ‘creature’ – much less a Maldives’ bureaucrat. This is consistent and in line with Al Gore’s media and public relations management – which won the PR agency, the campaign of the year award. And Al Gore the Nobel Prize.
For sometime, Nasheed was in Britain, a ‘political refugee’. Amnesty International declared Nasheed a ‘prisoner of conscience’ in 1996. The Maldives climate change campaign seems to be headquarted in Britain also.The New York Times report mentions how
Officials in the Maldives made the decision after soliciting a report on how to cut fossil fuel use and otherwise trim the country’s climate footprint from Chris Goodall and Mark Lynas, British environmentalists and authors of books on energy and climate.
The British press has been quite generous in its coverage and published his writings. Such coverage from Western media is normal for Western leaders or a significant head of State. Not for a President of a 300,000 people island-State.
President Mohamed Nasheed, declared with saturation Western media coverage, that Maldives will be the first country in the world to be carbon neutral. At another gab-fest, he dramatically declared, “We don’t want a global suicide pact” - which received wide publicity, especially in Canada, Britain, US media. News agencies like AFP and AP gave Nasheed saturation coverage.
Much like how the population explosion report by the ‘Club of Rome’ was released from the Smithsonian, the climate change
“announcement was made in the Maldives, but synchronized with the London premiere of ” The Age of Stupid,” a new film on global warming and oil that is a mix of documentary, dramatization and animation.
In response to this article in NY Times, significant data was shown, how Maldives will not go under-water.
High noon in Maldives
Interestingly, the current President of Maldives came to power, in rather unusual ‘circumstances’. “After violent civil riots in 2003 and fierce international pressure pushed Gayoom, to call for the 2008 Maldives Presidential elections. During the campaign and electioneering, “Gayoom’s allies accused Nasheed of seeking to spread Christianity in the increasingly conservative Muslim country, while the opposition accused the president of being a dictator who abused human rights.”
In the first round, Nasheed was placed second with 44,293 votes (24.91%), behind President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the long-ruling Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), who received 71,731 votes (40.34%). In the second round, Nasheed (supposedly supported by the unsuccessful first round candidates) won 54.25% of the vote against Gayoom (45.75) – “anyone waiting in line was permitted to cast a vote.”
Displaying penchant for excellent PR, Nasheed promptly declared himself as “the world’s first democratically elected president of a 100 percent Muslim country” – and promised to “to fight inflation, downsize government, tackle corruption and protect human rights”.
One comment simplified the Maldives riddle very well.
If the Maldives are doomed why spend $1.1 billion on the place. Abandon the islands. Move to higher ground. Ans.: They won’t get many $$ if they ask for any other reason. And they know better than anyone they are not sinking!
Of course, this begs the question, why Maldives? That brings us to the next part of the climate change factors. For more than 2 decades, Maldives has been nursed into a ‘leadership’ position. President Nasheed today leads the calling themselves the V11 – the vulnerable 11, which has become 14. Led by Maldives, this group includes far bigger and important countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Vietnam among others. Most of India’s neighbours have joined this group – like Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan.
If it wasn’t such deliciously, low life fraud, I may have even admired it.