What Does a Coup in the Maldives Mean for Climate Change?

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“Kyoto divided the world…between rich and poor, developed and developing…our task now is to unite the world behind the shared vision of low carbon growth. The Maldives is trying to lead the way.”

That's Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit.

Or should I say former president? Nasheed was forced out of office this week. Allies of the dictator he democratically defeated seem to have taken over. And Nasheed could be headed to jail, where he’s already been 27 times before as a human rights activist in his nation.

Thus far, the U.S. has provisionally recognized the coup leaders as the legitimate government, despite the fact that Nasheed is the only democratically elected president in Maldives history.

He's also a leader of the international fight against climate change. He's pledged to make the Maldives carbon neutral by 2020 and held an underwater cabinet meeting in scuba gear to highlight the existential threat his nation faces from rising sea levels caused by global warming. He's even corralled support for climate agreements in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban. That means a coup in the tiny chain of islands might mean big things for the global effort to combat climate change.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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