Maldives to hold global warming meet underwater

Girifushi Island: Maldives government ministers are taking scuba lessons and learning underwater signs in preparation for an unprecedented Cabinet meeting at the bottom of the ocean intended to highlight the threat global warming poses to the low-lying nation. 

Since taking office last year, President Mohammed Nasheed has emerged as an important international voice on the impact of climate change amid fears that rising ocean levels could swamp this Indian Ocean archipelago within a century. 

He has announced plans for a fund to buy a new homeland for his people if the Maldives’ 1,192 low-lying coral islands are submerged. 

He also has promised to make the Maldives, with a population of 350,000, the world’s first carbon-neutral nation within a decade.

President Nasheed will chair a meeting of his 14 Cabinet ministers about 20 feet (six meters) underwater on October 17, said an official from the president’s office. 

The ministers will wear scuba gear for the gathering off the island of Girifushi – about 20 minutes journey by speed boat from the capital, Male, officials said. 

The ministers will communicate using hand gestures and are now receiving diving lessons, officials said, adding that Nasheed is a certified diver. 

Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Didi signs a decree at the underwater Cabinet meeting, in a photo from the Maldives presidency. (AFP/Getty Images / October 17, 2009) - From The Los Angeles Times

Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Ibrahim Didi signs a decree at the underwater Cabinet meeting, in a photo from the Maldives presidency. (AFP/Getty Images / October 17, 2009) - From The Los Angeles Times

At the meeting, the Cabinet plans to sign a document calling on all countries to cut down their carbon emissions ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, where the countries will negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, an official from the president’s office said. 

Wealthy nations want broad cuts in emissions from all countries, while poorer ones say industrialised countries should carry most of the burden. 

The Maldives’ islands average 7 feet (2.13 meters) above sea level, making them the lowest-lying nation on Earth.

From IBNLIVE

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