Male: The Maldives, whose fight against rising sea levels has become a cause celebre for
environmentalists, said on Monday it would have to skip UN climate change talks in Copenhagen this year to save money.
"We can`t go to Copenhagen because we don`t have the money," President Mohamed Nasheed told reporters, adding that he was staying away to set an example of cost-saving to the rest of the government.
In 2007, the UN`s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that a rise in sea levels of 18 to 59 centimetres by 2100 would be enough to make the Maldives virtually uninhabitable.
Over 80 percent of the country`s land, composed of 1,192 coral islands scattered off southern India, is less than one metre above mean sea level.
Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the archipelago, said the economy was in serious trouble because of a fall in tourism revenues that has sent the budget deficit to a record 34 percent of gross domestic product.
In the past, in a move that drew attention to the plight of the nation`s 330,000-strong population, Nasheed has said the government would begin saving to buy a new homeland for its people to flee to in the future.
Sri Lanka, India or Australia have been mooted as destinations.