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Archive for October 26th, 2009

Ministers in the Maldives have taken diving lessons ahead of an underwater cabinet meeting that will highlight the threat global warming and rising sea levels pose to the low-lying atoll nation.

President Mohamed Nasheed will chair the meeting on October 17 ahead of the world climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, a spokesman told AFP from the islands’ capital, Male.

He said the 14-member cabinet were taught scuba-diving basics over the weekend. Nasheed was not present as he is already a certified diver.

The cabinet will don wet suits and scuba equipment and dive to a depth of six metres (20 feet), where a special meeting of the cabinet will be convened,” the spokesman, who declined to be named, said.

They will then ratify a pledge calling on other nations to slash greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the Copenhagen meeting.

Cabinet members will communicate using whiteboards and hand signals.

The Maldivian archipelago, located south west of Sri Lanka, is on the front line of climate change and has become a vocal campaigner in the battle to halt rising sea levels.

In 2007, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that a rise in sea levels of 18 to 59 centimetres (7 to 23 inches) by 2100 would be enough to make the Maldives virtually uninhabitable.

More than 80 percent of the country’s land, composed of coral islands scattered some 850 kilometres (530 miles) across the equator, is less than one metre (3.3 feet) above mean sea level.

The danger for the Maldives is so acute that Nasheed has raised the possibility of buying a new “homeland” in Australia, India or Sri Lanka for the nation’s 330,000 citizens.