News24

Maldives 'too broke for summit'

2009-09-07 12:50

Male - The Maldives, one of the countries most at risk from rising sea levels, said on Monday it could not afford to attend an international summit on climate change this year.

President Mohamed Nasheed told reporters in the capital Male that his newly elected government was too broke to fund his presence at December's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

"We can't go to Copenhagen because we don't have the money," Nasheed said, adding that he also wanted to set a cost-cutting example to the rest of the government.

Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, said the $1bn economy was in serious trouble with the budget deficit shooting to a record 34% of gross domestic product.

A one metre rise in sea level would almost totally submerge the country's 1 192 coral islands scattered off the southern tip of India.

Experts predict a rise of at least 18 centimetres is likely by the end of the century.

Over 80% of the land is less than one metre above mean sea level.

Nasheed has raised the possibility of his government buying a new homeland for his people to flee to in the future, with Sri Lanka, India or Australia mooted as options.

The country's land area is only about 300km², but in total it covers nearly 100 000km² of sea.



AFP