As the snow-capped peak of Mt Everest looked down, the Nepal cabinet held a historic meeting at Kalapatthar, located 17,192 feet above sea level, on Friday to highlight impact of climate change on Himalayas.
The meeting at a Mt Everest base camp is Nepal’s symbolic attempt at attracting worldwide attention on the threat posed to Himalayan glaciers by global warming ahead of the Copenhagen meet on climate change.
“It’s not a Nepali issue or the concern of countries in the Himalayan region alone. Impact of global change on Himalayas would impact 1.3 billion people living in South Asia. Hence it should concern everyone,” said Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal after the cabinet meeting.
The cabinet adopted a Mt erest Declaration, approved Prime Minister’s speech for the Copenhagen meet and announced setting up of Gaurishankar Conservation Area (spread across 2000 square kilometers near Mt Everest).
With icy winds blowing on a sunny morning, 24 of the 27 ministers of the Madhav Kumar Nepal government attended the meeting wearing layers of protective gear and oxygen cylinders kept close by.
The meeting started at 11:00 am and ended 10 minutes later with ministers approving all proposals placed before them. A march by Mt Everest summiteers at Copenhagen was also given the green signal.
In order to acclimatize them with the extreme climate, all ministers were flown from Kathmandu to Syangboche on Thursday. They had to undergo medical tests on Friday morning before they were flown by a Nepal Army helicopter to the Kalapatthar plateau.
“Nepal will get only three minutes to say its bit at Copenhagen. Today’s cabinet meet and the summiteers march will help kick-start a debate on saving Himalayas from the effects of climate change,” said Forest Minister Deepak Bohara, the brain behind the event.
In a similar attempt, the Maldives cabinet had held a meeting under water in October to highlight the threat to the island nation due to rising sea level as a result of global warming.