Minister of Environment, Climate Change, and Technology Aminath Shauna says climate change is a real and existential threat to the Maldives and the country has high expectations of the COP26 conference.

Accompanying President Ibrahim Mohamed and Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Nasheed on their trip to attend the climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Minister Shauna spoke at CVF Commonwealth high-level panel discussion on climate prosperity collaboration earlier today.

Minister Shauna addressing a side event at COP26/ Photo: President's Office

She said that the planet doesn’t have room for negotiations and that we have to agree and start delivering, not “plan to deliver". Minister Shauna also said that vulnerable countries are committed to resolve the climate crisis because they know that they will not survive its worst impact.

In an online interview with AP, Minister Shauna explained what failing to limit global warming could mean to a country as low-laying as the Maldives.

Shauna said that it could be a “death sentence” for small island nations like the Maldives, including the end of their livelihoods and cultures.

She said that the country is threatened by rising seas and stronger storms that have left no uncontaminated freshwater anywhere in the nation.

Minister Shauna said in her interview that she hopes the world will commit to large-scale and rapid actions to limit warming to 1.5C.

President Solih accompanied by Minister Shauna at the world leader's summit at COP26/ Photo: President's Office

She warned that failing to do so would leave small island nations struggling to survive and urged rich nations to fulfill their Paris promise to spend £72 billion annually to help poorer nations cope with the impact of climate change and switch to cleaner energy.

The Climate Change Minister also said that the finance has not reached the Maldives and small island states and more should be done to unlock the financial system.

Shauna noted that the cost of climate change cannot be crunched down into numbers but the failure to act would result in loss of cultures, way of lives, and livelihoods.

She said the impacts of climate change – heavy rainfall, flooding, coastal erosion, inadequate drinkable water, and the need to completely alter lives and livelihoods – have already become part of the norm.