Quantcast
Climate

Bill McKibben: ‘Paris Summit is Missing One of the Great World Leaders on Climate’ Because He’s in Prison

One of the world’s leading climate campaigners is missing from the UN climate summit in Paris, because he is sitting in a prison cell after being deposed in a military coup. Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was a key voice at the 2009 UN climate summit for island nations threatened by rising sea levels.

Mohamed Nasheed, the democratically-elected former president of the Maldives, was ousted in a coup in 2012 and this year sentenced to 13 years on trumped-up charges. Photo credit: AFP / Ishara S.Kodikara

"Nasheed promised to take his whole country carbon neutral by 2020. Instead, the dictators running it now are inviting the oil industry in to drill," says Democracy NOW!'s guest Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. "If you want to think about irony, it doesn’t get much better than that."

Here's the rush transcript from the show:

AMY GOODMAN: One more question I want to raise with Bill McKibben, our guest right now, and that’s The Guardian piece that he wrote, The Paris summit is missing one of the great world leaders on climate. The article is about former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. For years, he was a leading climate campaigner. Today he sits in a prison cell after being deposed in a coup. This is a quote from a clip of Mohamed Nasheed in 2009:

MOHAMED NASHEED: For countries to defend Poland in the 1930s, because it was a frontline state. It’s very important to take care of the Maldives now because the Maldives and many other small states are in the front line of what is happening to the world, to climate today. If you can’t defend the Maldives today, you won’t be able to defend yourselves tomorrow.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mohamed Nasheed in 2009. And I certainly remember—met Mohamed Nasheed for the first time that year at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, one of the most vocal voices around the effects of climate change with his islands nation, Maldives. Bill McKibben, where is he today?

BILL MCKIBBEN: Well, he’s in prison on a prison island in that archipelago. Look, the Copenhagen climate summit, a great failure, had very few heroes but one of them was Mohamed Nasheed. I won’t soon forget him leading a huge crowd of people and chanting "3-5-0" booming out across that conference center. Nor will I forget, ever, the activism that he displayed. He, you know, taught his whole cabinet to scuba dive so they could hold an underwater meeting on their dying coral reef, something that was on the front page of every paper around the planet to dramatize what was happening.

What happened to him is horrible. He was not only a climate leader, of course, he was a great freedom fighter. They call him the Mandela of the Indian Ocean. He overthrew a dictator of 30 years in a free election. But the dictator’s people fought back, and in a military coup deposed him. Not only is he now in jail, but so are many, many others including many leaders of other political parties. The Maldives has turned into a full on autocracy. Nasheed apparently is apparently in poor health and being denied medical treatment. Amnesty International is speaking out on his behalf, so is Amal Clooney, who’s travelled there, the human rights lawyer, to visit with him. But it is a disgrace, and one hopes that leaders here at this conference will remember his leadership and speak up a little bit on his behalf.

AMY GOODMAN: Sadly after the gun was put to his head and he was deposed in a military coup, the U.S., I believe, was the first, if not one of the first countries, to recognize the new coup government.

BILL MCKIBBEN: It’s a—it’s really, really sad. It’s not as if the Maldives has some kind of enormous strategic value to anyone. It has enormous moral value. This is an archipelago of a thousand islands stretching across the equator in the Indian Ocean, but the highest point in the archipelago is only a few meters above sea level. They are the poster child for where not to be in a warming world. And it was Nasheed who promised to take his whole country carbon-neutral by 2020, instead, the dictators running it now are inviting the oil industry in to drill around the edges of those islands. If you want to think about irony, it doesn’t get much better than that.

AMY GOODMAN: Folks should check out our interview with Mohamed Nasheed before he was imprisoned at democracynow.org

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Yeb Saño and the Fast for the Climate Movement at COP21

Bernie Sanders: GOP Candidates Care More About Koch Money Than ‘Preserving the Planet for Our Children’

“Ridiculously, Earth-Shatteringly Stupid”: Daily Show Slams GOP Climate-Denying Gang

Prince Harry’s Moving Photos From Africa Trip Show Brutal Reality of Poaching

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!