Nepal is to hold a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of next month's climate change talks in Copenhagen.
The entire cabinet will travel to Everest base camp at an altitude of 5,360 metres for the meeting, to be held later this month.
The announcement comes just weeks after the government of the Maldives held an underwater cabinet meeting to focus global attention on rising sea levels ahead of the key UN summit on December 7-18.
‘The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas is a serious concern for us,’ said forests minister Deepak Bohora.
‘We want to focus the world's attention on saving the Himalayas from the effects of climate change before the Copenhagen meeting.’
Around 1.3bn people depend on the water that flows down from the Himalayan glaciers, which experts say are melting at an alarming rate, threatening to bring floods and later drought to the region.
Campaigners say that while the effects of climate change on low-lying South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and the Maldives are now well known, there is little international awareness of the vulnerability of the Himalayan region.
Mr Bohora said the visit would be an opportunity for ministers to gain first-hand information about the effects of climate change on the vast mountain range.
‘Climate change has hit the Himalayas in general and Nepal in particular,’ he said.
‘Its effects are being manifested in different forms, from the rapid increase in the size of the glacial lakes to erratic monsoon patterns and unprecedented forest fires.’
Mr Bohora also said the government was planning to take some of the world's top mountaineers to Copenhagen to talk about their experiences, among them Apa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest a record 19 times.
Apa Sherpa has said in the past that the amount of snow on the world's highest peak has fallen since he first reached its summit in 1990, a trend he blames on global warming.