They also say that huge glacial lakes created by the melting glaciers could burst and devastate mountain communities downstream.

Climate warning

The cabinet meeting was scheduled to last just 20 minutes before the ministers were helicoptered to a lower altitude.

in depth

  Video: Nepal voices climate change fears

The main subject of business was the speech that Madhav Kumar Nepal, the prime minister, is to deliver at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, later this month.

Helicopters ferried in a team of doctors and medical equipment to the remote plateau before the meeting and each minister was given an oxygen cylinder, in case they got into difficulties.

Subhash Khanal, a doctor with the Himalayan rescue association, said all the ministers were in good health when they left the small Himalayan settlement of Syangboche.

"The fact is that the glaciers are melting due to global warming. That has become a critical issue and we want to draw global attention to it"

Thakur Prasad Sharma,
environment minister

Most of the ministers spent the night before the meeting in Syangboche to acclimatise to the high altitude.

The cabinet meeting has drawn comparisons with a stunt in the Maldives where ministers held an underwater cabinet meeting on October 17 to highlight the dangers of rising sea levels for the island nation.

Thakur Prasad Sharma, Nepal's environment minister, denied the high-altitude meeting was a publicity stunt, after criticism in some local media about the cost of the trip.

"The fact is that the glaciers are melting due to global warming. That has become a critical issue and we want to draw global attention to it," he was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.