The Maldives has nearly 1,200 islands, of which 189 are inhabited by its 540,000 people. The islands average just a meter (3.3 feet) above sea level and are threatened by rising seas and stronger storms that have left no uncontaminated fresh water anywhere in the nation

 A failure to limit global warming could mean a “death sentence” for small island nations like the Maldives, including the end of their livelihoods and cultures, the country’s environment minister told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Almost all countries signed the 2015 Paris climate accord, aimed at limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above levels in the late 19th century, and ideally no more than 1.5 C (2.7 F). But the world already has warmed nearly 1.1 C (2 F), scientists say.

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said earlier this year that the world is likely to exceed the 1.5 C increase in the 2030s, earlier than expected.

“The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees, for us, really is a death sentence,” Aminath Shauna, the Maldives’ minister for environment, climate change and technology, said in an online interview with The Associated Press from Male, the Maldives’ capital.

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