Maldives holds world's first underwater Cabinet meeting

October 17, 2009 10:18 pm 

COLOMBO, Oct. 18 — Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged four meters below the surface of sea to hold the world's first underwater cabinet meeting on Saturday, in a bid to push for a stronger climate change agreement in the upcoming UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

During the 30-minute meeting held in the turquoise lagoon off Girifushi Island, about 35 kms northeast of the capital Male, Nasheed and his cabinet ministers signed a resolution calling for global cuts in carbon emissions, the President's Office of the Maldives said in a statement published on its official website.

Nasheed and the ministers used a water proof pencil to sign the declaration "SOS from the frontline" which was printed on a white plastic slate.

The declaration will be presented before the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December, said the statement.

"We are trying to send our message to let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change isn't checked" Nasheed was quoted as saying to the press as soon as he resurfaced from underwater.

"What we are trying to make people realize is that the Maldives is a frontline state. This is not merely an issue for the Maldives but for the world. If we can't save the Maldives today, you can't save the rest of the world tomorrow," Nasheed added.

"Climate change is happening and it threatens the rights and security of everyone on Earth," the declaration said.

The declaration called for people to "unite in global effort to halt further temperature rises, by slashing carbon dioxide emissions to a safe level of 350 parts per million".

The Maldives is calling for an agreement at Copenhagen that will help reduce carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million. This would require a 40 per cent global reduction in green house gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels.

In March this year, Nasheed announced that the Maldives would be the first country in the Maldives to go carbon neutral, and the Maldives would achieve the target by 2020.

Nasheed is a certified open water diver, while other ministers took diving lessons recent weeks.

After the dive, signed wet suits of the Nasheed and the ministers will be auctioned on www.protectmaldives.com.mv to raise funds for coral reef protection in the Maldives.

Experts warned that that an increase in sea levels of just 18 to 59 centimeters would make the country virtually uninhabitable by 2100.

More than 80 percent of the tiny atoll nation, comprised of 1, 192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, is less than a meter above sea level. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/utb

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