“The Maldives is a frontline state and what happens to us today will happen to others tomorrow,” Nasheed said.
The Cabinet of the island nation of Rep. of Maldives took a plunge into the Indian Ocean on Saturday dressed in full scuba costumes and approved a resolution urging global action to cut carbon emissions.
President Mohammad Nasheed and his deputy, Mohamed Waheed, and a dozen ministers conducted the session at a depth of six meters (20 feet) sitting behind tables arranged in a horseshoe formation. Tropical fish swam around the ministers in a session televised and is first of several other PR events that the ministry has planned ahead of the critical Copenhagen meeting to focus the global attention on climate change and its effects on the Maldives. There are more activities the Government has planned to carry out under the 350 campaign program. The cabinet will ride through Male on 24th of this month on bicycles as a sign of their deep commitment to adapt to green policies and lifestyle. Maldives has already vowed to become a carbon neutral nation.
Except for the President and Defense Minister Ameen Faisal no other minister had diving experience and the team had been preparing for past two months for this event. The ministers communicated using diver’s sign language at the event and signed the resolution, printed on a white board, using water-proof markers. The President, Vice President Mohamed Waheed and 12 members of the Cabinet signed 3 copies of the declaration, one of which will be sent to Copenhagen, one to be kept in the Presidents Office and the third for the National Museum.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change In 2007 had warned that an increase in sea levels of just 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 24 inches) would make Maldives almost uninhabitable by 2100. Less than 20% the this tiny nation, which is famed for its tourist attractions due to its coral reefs and white-sand beaches, is less than a metre (3.3 feet) above sea level.
“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 said, according to his Web site.
Asked what would happen if Copenhagen fails, the president said, “we are all going to die,” according to the site.
Maldives an island country in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls stretching along north-south direction off India’s Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. The threat is so material that the government is planning to set aside funds to “buy” a new homeland for the around 396,000 citizens.
“We will invest in land,” he (President Nasheed) said. “We do not want to end up in refugee tents if the worst happens.“
The government sources also said that the nation is already weighing the idea with India and Sri Lanka since the land, climate, cuisine and traditions of the nations match theirs. They are also looking at Australia as an option as Australia has vast unoccupied lands.
The event may look as a mere PR stunt but presents a true picture of tomorrow if the carbon emissions are not checked. Global players have signed various protocols but almost every understanding has ended in being used just as a plank to play blame game. Hopefully this initiative will open more eyes and the Copenhagen meet will lead to better understanding and action rather than just appreciation of the threat.