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Posted on on November 13th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Carbon News and Info, Tuesday, 11 November 2008.
The new President of the Maldives says he will begin buying land in other nations as “an insurance policy” in case his nation needs to be evacuated due to rising sea levels from climate change.

The Maldives is a group of 1200 tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, 80 per cent of which are less than one metre above sea level. Much of the most inhabited parts of the country are just 1.5 metres above the water.

The first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, and his Vice-President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, wasted little time in declaring their plans to British newspapers saying a national fund would be established with royalties from the country’s tourist industry to fund land purchases.

Nasheed told the Guardian that Sri Lanka and India were obvious targets given their proximity, and the cultural similarities of their people to the 300,000 Maldivians. He also named Australia as a possible destination.

Manik said the “worst-case scenario due to sea level rise would be that some or even all of our islands would become uninhabitable and we would have to look for alternative places for Maldivians to live” in an interview with the Financial Times.

“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,” Nasheed told the Guardian, comparing the concept to Israelis buying land in Palestine.

There is much contention among scientists over how much sea levels can be expected to rise this century. The IPCC landmark 2007 report published conservative estimates of a rise of 25 to 58cm by 2100, criticised as too low by some researchers.

In 2005, authorities announced plans to move the 1000-strong population of the Carteret Atolls, in Papua New Guinea, to Bougainville in what were said to be the first climate change evacuations. Their current homes are predicted to become completely submerged by 2015.

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