MALE, Maldives, June 1 (UPI) -- The president of the Maldives called for grassroots "street action" on climate change.
"What we really need is a huge social '60s-style catalystic, dynamic street action," said President Mohamed Nasheed, noting that the United States was the biggest obstacle to a global agreement on climate change.
Nasheed spoke via a live video link from the Maldives over the weekend with Ed Miliband, former British secretary of state for energy and climate change during the "Maldives -- Dispatches from the Climate Change Frontline" event at London's Hay Festival.
"My sense of China is that they tend to believe in climate change. My sense of the U.S. is that a fair amount of them simply don't believe in it," he said.
Nasheed's comments came ahead of a fresh round of U.N. climate change talks that began Monday in Bonn, Germany.
The outspoken president, who was awarded the U.N. Champion of the Earth Award by the U.N. Environment Program in April, has warned that other countries could also face the effects of warming oceans and rising sea levels as the vulnerable archipelago nation.
Last October, Nasheed had the world's first underwater Cabinet meeting to call attention to climate change.
In 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that rising sea levels of up to nearly 2 feet would swamp many of the Maldives' 1,192 low-lying islands.
Nasheed has pledged that the Maldives would go carbon neutral by 2020 by switching to 100 percent renewable energy.
Nasheed has said that his country was on track to meet the target, with three large wind farms under construction and the development of photovoltaic technologies.
But to keep back the ocean, the Maldives has had to build sea walls and residents of 16 of its islands are being relocated.
The president told the Hay audience that moving the people of the Maldives wasn't a solution. "Even if we go, I always think where would the butterflies go? Where would the sounds go?" he asked.
Countries that are serious about tackling climate change, Nasheed said, should forge ahead with agreements and emissions reductions regardless of the stance of other nations.
"We cannot wait for the lowest common denominator where everyone agrees to doing almost nothing," he said.
On Monday, the European Union pledged a grant of $18.35 million for the Maldives, Bangladesh and Cambodia to implement the nations' strategic action plan for tackling climate change.