Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nepal's government to meet on Mt Everest

ABC News Online, 30 November 2009 

Nepal's cabinet will meet in the shadow of Mount Everest next week to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of UN climate talks in Copenhagen, officials said.
Twenty-six ministers, together with staff, will travel to the town of Gorakshep, high up in the foothills of Everest, for the special climate-themed meeting, said Bishnu Rijal, press adviser to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
"We're going to host a ministerial level cabinet meeting on Friday, December 4 at Gorakshep to draw the attention of the whole world" to the effects of global warming on the Himalayas he said.
"Our glaciers are melting and glacial lakes are growing and are on the verge of overflowing. That will create a Himalayan tsunami. Even though we do not contribute to global warming, our country is highly vulnerable."
The UN talks, aimed at setting targets to curb greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, take place December 7-18.
Gorakshep, a sandy plateau 5,165 metres above sea level, is the last village before the Everest base camp and the place from where mountaineers seeking to climb the celebrated peak set out.
Originally the cabinet planned to meet at the base camp itself, a little higher at 5,360 metres.
But the venue was changed as it was too difficult to get all the ministers and officials there by helicopter, Mr Rijal said.
In October the Maldives held its own publicity-grabbing underwater cabinet meeting to draw attention to rising sea levels that threaten to submerge the island nation.
Around 1.3 billion people depend on the water that flows from the Himalayan glaciers, which experts say are melting at an alarming rate, threatening to bring floods and later drought to Nepal, India and Pakistan.
Campaigners say that while the effects of climate change on low-lying South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and the Maldives are now well-known, there is little international awareness of the vulnerability of the Himalayan region.
"Our motive is to draw the attention of global leaders to commit and work towards lowering the greenhouse gas emissions and also provide compensation mechanisms to vulnerable countries like us," said Rijal.
"The Western countries should also think about preventive measures for country like ours where people live under the constant threat" of climate change, he said.
"Climate change has hit the Himalayas in general and Nepal in particular."

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