Maldives plans to buy new homeland as insurance policy against global warming

November 10th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 10 (ANI): The President of Maldives has announced plans of diverting a portion of the countrys billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland, as an insurance policy against global warming.

According to a report in the Guardian, Mohamed Nasheed, who is the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, has said that the chain of 1,200 islands and coral atolls, dotted 500 miles from the tip of India, is likely to disappear under the waves if the current pace of climate change continues to raise sea levels.

Nasheed said that this scenario threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees.

The UN forecasts that the seas are likely to rise by up to 59cm by 2100, due to global warming. Most parts of the Maldives are just 1.5m above water.

The president said that even a small rise in sea levels would inundate large parts of the archipelago.

We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It’’s an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome. After all, the Israelis began by buying land in Palestine, said Nasheed.

The President said that he had already broached the idea with a number of countries and found them to be receptive.

He said that Sri Lanka and India were targets because they had similar cultures, cuisines and climates. Australia was also being considered because of the amount of unoccupied land available.

We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades, he said.

According to environmentalists, the issue raises the question of what rights citizens have if their homeland no longer exists.

Its an unprecedented wake-up call, said Tom Picken, head of international climate change at Friends of the Earth. The Maldives is left to fend for itself. It is a victim of climate change caused by rich countries, he added.

Nasheed said he intended to create a sovereign wealth fund from the dollars generated by importing tourists, in the way that Arab states have done by exporting oil.

Kuwait might invest in companies; we will invest in land, he said. (ANI)

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