These developing country heads of state add a much-needed sense of urgency to this occasion, by raising the profile of the climate equity argument, one that has not yet been adequately reflected by the constant procedural wrangling over the one-track versus two-track approach. President Nasheed is certainly threatening to steal Obama's thunder by becoming the media darling of this event.
The equity issue is one that galvanizes the public in a way that weak emissions targets do not, and it may well be political survival that key politicians end up responding to. Who wants to be the leader that condemns the Maldivians to death in the eyes of the world?
That is certainly the approach that President Nasheed is pursuing, and it may well be the best strategy when all is said and done. Within hours of his arrival, Nasheed had already addressed three different events, a constant trail of TV cameras following his every move. He will soon speak to a crowd of thousands, as he tries to galvanize a response from the developed countries that are holding up these negotiations by mobilizing their electorate.
And despite the claims that these negotiations must be rational and have a business case, it may very well be the emotive stories of small island states such as the Maldives that really does compel action in the following weeks.
Certainly, Nasheed's presentation at a side event just a few hours ago brought one of the most enthusiastic responses yet seen. His public position is an emotive one.
"This is not about money, this is about survival. With enough money you could relocate everyone from the Maldives. But this is a culture that has survived the for the last 5,000 years without ever being colonized. You can relocate people, but you can't relocate language, culture and traditions. And you can't relocate our butterflies, forests and coral reefs. Do we want to live in a world were a culture is allowed to die out?"It makes you wonder: who wants to sit across a table and argue against that. It certainly puts the Obama administration's pledge for 17% cuts below 2005 levels in perspective.