Climate worries to send Nepal cabinet to Everest base

KATHMANDU Mon Nov 2, 2009 6:27am EST

Mount Everest, world's highest peak with a height of 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) above sea level, is seen from the Tibetan side June 7, 2009. REUTERS/Ang Tshring Sherpa

Mount Everest, world's highest peak with a height of 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) above sea level, is seen from the Tibetan side June 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Ang Tshring Sherpa

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's cabinet plans to meet at the base camp of Mount Everest this month to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of next month's U.N. negotiations on climate change, a minister said on Monday.

The base camp is located about 5,300 meters (17,400 feet) up the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) mountain and is the point from where climbers to the Everest summit begin their ascent.

"The cabinet meeting is meant to draw the attention to the adverse impact of climate change to the Himalayas including Sagarmatha," Forest Minister Deepak Bohara told Reuters, using the Nepali name of the mountain.

The Maldives held the world's first underwater cabinet meeting last month, in a symbolic cry for help over rising sea levels that threaten the Indian Ocean archipelago's existence.

Bohara said Nepal would also send some of its renowned Everest climbers to Copenhagen next month to highlight the problems of glacier melting, erratic rains and unprecedented forest fires.

Negotiations for a new global accord to fight global warming are scheduled to conclude at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital in December.

Bohara also appealed to Everest climbers from around the world to gather in their climbing gear in Copenhagen on International Mountain Day on December 11 to draw the attention of the delegates to the risks of climate change in the Himalayas.

Experts say mountainous Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 tallest peaks, including Mount Everest, is vulnerable to climate change despite being responsible for only 0.025 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the world's lowest.

Thousands of glaciers in the Himalayas that are the source of water for 10 major Asian rivers, whose basins are home to a sixth of humanity, could go dry in the next five decades because of the global warming, they say.

Global temperatures rose by an average of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, according to the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). It says the warming in the Himalayas has been much greater than the global average.

"We want to put across our point to the world that the Himalayas are melting and draw the attention of the international community through the rally to save them," Bohara told reporters.

Mount Everest has been climbed by more than 3,600 people since it was first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953.

(Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Alex Richardson)

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