It was yet another first for Maldives - an underwater cabinet meeting. President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold their confabulations Saturday.
The idea was to push for a stronger climate change agreement in the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen.
AdvertisementDuring the 30-minute meeting held in the turquoise lagoon off Girifushi Island, with a backdrop of corals, the President, the Vice President and eleven other Cabinet ministers signed a resolution calling for global cuts in carbon emissions.
President Nasheed and the ministers used a water proof pencils to sign the declaration, 'SOS from the frontline', printed on a white plastic slate, to be presented before the landmark UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December.
"Climate change is happening and it threatens the rights and security of everyone on Earth" the SOS message said. The SOS, endorsed by the cabinet, further 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 part per million. This would require a 40 per cent global reduction in green house gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels.
The country is grappling with the very likely possibility that it will go under water if the current pace of climate change keeps raising sea levels. The Maldives is an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands south-southwest of India. Most of it lies just 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) above sea level.
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has forecast a rise in sea levels of at least 7.1 inches (18 cm) by the end of the century.
The country's capital, Male, is protected by sea walls. But creating a similar barrier around the rest of the country will be cost-prohibitive.
"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" said President Nasheed, speaking 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", said President Nasheed further.
When asked what would happen if Copenhagen fails, the President said that "we are all going to die". However, he said the Maldives would be the first country to adopt any amicable climate agreement that comes through Copenhagen.
In March this year President 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.
President Nasheed, who is an influential voice on climate change, is a certified open water diver, while other ministers took diving lessons recent weeks.
After the dive, signed wet suits of the President and the ministers will be auctioned on www.protectmaldives.com.mv to raise funds for coral reef protection in the Maldives.