Ibrahim Didi, right, the minister of fisheries and agriculture in the Maldives, signs a document calling on all countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions ahead of a major climate change conference in December. ((Mohammed Seeneen/Associated Press))

Cabinet ministers in the Maldives held an underwater meeting Saturday to draw attention to the threat global warming poses to the lowest-lying nation on earth.

President Mohammed Nasheed and members of his cabinet wore scuba gear as they arrived for the meeting in a lagoon off the island of Girifushi.

They sat at a table anchored to the sand on the floor of the Indian Ocean and signed a document calling on all countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

'We're trying to send our message of what will happen to the Maldives if climate change is not checked," said President Nasheed, speaking six metres below the surface. "We want other countries to come to an understanding [at the World Climate Congress] in Copenhagen. We do not want to see Copenhagen fail."

Officials from around the world will meet in the Danish capital under UN auspices to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.

At the best of times, the islands of the Maldives are just a couple of metres above sea level. The ministers say if something isn't done to stem the rate of rising sea levels, the whole archipelago could end up under the water by the end of the century.

Scientists at a meeting in Copenhagen last March predicted that glaciers and ice sheets melting as a result of global warming could boost the level of the world's oceans by as much as a metre by 2100.