Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim has announced the nation’s desire to harness the Loss and Damage Fund, established during last year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP27. The fund is designated for tackling climate change and addressing the repercussions of environmental disasters.

Minister Thoriq made this declaration while addressing reporters at Velana International Airport on Wednesday, just before embarking on his journey to the COP28 gathering in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is scheduled to take place from Thursday to 12 December. Accompanying him is the Maldives’ Climate Envoy Ali Shareef.

Minister Ibrahim emphasised the pivotal role of COP28 and underscored the issues that the Maldives intends to champion. He specifically highlighted the responsibility of developed nations in addressing climate change, referencing their historical emissions that have contributed to the current crisis. In contrast, small island nations like the Maldives have minimal emissions but bear the brunt of climate change.

The Loss and Damage Fund, established during COP27 in 2022, is poised to play a critical role in addressing the Maldives’ challenges. Minister Thoriq expressed optimism about the outcome of COP28, underscoring the urgent red warning issued by scientists concerning global warming. 

President Mohamed Muizzu is set to arrive in the UAE to lead the Maldivian delegation at COP28, where he will engage in discussions with heads of state from 160 countries. The new President has faced criticism over controversial statements he made to international media, with relation to climate change. 

Ali Shareef, the government’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, defended President Muizzu’s recent remarks about the perceived threat of climate change to the Maldives. Shareef, who was appointed under the Climate Emergency Act on 22 November, clarified the President’s statements in an interview with Al Jazeera, saying that they were taken out of context.

President Muizzu’s remarks had attracted controversy, as he appeared to downplay the severity of sea-level rise in the Maldives due to climate change. However, Shareef asserted that the President’s intention was to highlight the nation’s longstanding awareness of this issue, backed by scientific evidence.

Shareef underscored the importance of acknowledging scientific facts and asserted that President Muizzu does not deny the reality of climate change, but rather, he wanted to stress the nation’s consistent concern regarding sea-level rise, which has been a topic of discussion for decades.