Maldives govt goes underwater for climate change

To bring attention the risk the Maldives face from rising sea levels and climate change, President Mohamed Nasheed is going to the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

On Saturday, he and 12 cabinet ministers will don scuba gear and dive 3.5 meters (11 feet, 6 inches) under the surface of a turquoise lagoon to hold what is billed as the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting.

It is the latest of Nasheed’s eye-catching moves to bring attention to the Maldives’ plight before a landmark U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen in December.

“The message is we will do anything, everything, to live in this country,” Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam told Reuters.

The archipelago nation off the tip of India, mostly known for its high-end luxury tropical hideaways and unspoiled white-sand beaches, is among the most threatened by rising seas.

Rising sea levels of up to 58 cm, as predicted by the U.N. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, threaten to submerge most of the Maldives’ low-lying islands by 2100.

The underwater cabinet meeting is a part of the 350 global campaigns, which call for a reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide to the safe threshold of 350 parts per million (ppm). Current levels stand at 387 ppm.

Seated around a table and using hand signals and slates, the cabinet will endorse an “SOS” message from the Maldives to be presented at the U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen.

“We must unite in a world war effort to halt further temperature rises,” an advance copy of the statement made available to Reuters said.