Pacific island minister films climate speech knee-deep in the ocean

PUBLISHED: Tue, 09 Nov 2021 07:16:03 GMT
Lucy Handley
Key Points
  • Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign minister, has filmed a speech to climate summit COP26 knee-deep in the ocean.
  • Kofe aims to highlight the effect of rising sea levels on the small island state in the South Pacific.
  • According to the World Bank, western Pacific ocean levels have risen at two to three times faster than the global average.
Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication & Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe gives a COP26 statement while standing in the ocean in Funafuti, Tuvalu November 5, 2021.
Tuvalu Foreign Ministry | via Reuters

LONDON — The foreign minister of Tuvalu, an island in the South Pacific, has filmed a speech to climate summit COP26 standing knee-deep in the ocean to show how the nation is vulnerable to global warming.

Simon Kofe’s will deliver the speech to the event on Tuesday, via a video message that shows him at a lectern in a suit and tie in the water off the island nation’s capital, Funafuti.

“The statement juxtaposes the COP26 setting with the real-life situations faced in Tuvalu due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise and highlights the bold action Tuvalu is taking to address the very pressing issues of human mobility under climate change,” Kofe explained ahead of the broadcast of his video message, per a Reuters report.

Tuvalu, which is about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, is made up of nine small islands and has a population of around 12,000. Its tourism website, Timeless Tuvalu, warns that by the end of the century it could be under water. School pupils are learning about the effects of climate change and “could be the last generation of children to grow up in Tuvalu,” the website states, adding that many people have already emigrated to New Zealand.

Read more: South Africa to call on rich nations to do more at COP26

According to the World Bank, western Pacific ocean levels have risen at two to three times faster than the global average. They are forecast to rise between 0.5 and 1.1 meters before the end of the century.

The leaders of island nations have already made strong pleas at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, with Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih stating last week: “Our islands are slowly being eaten by the sea, one by one. If we do not reverse this trend, the Maldives will cease to exist by the end of the century.”

Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, said in a speech that global warming of 2 degrees Celsius “is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of the Maldives, for the people of the Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique, and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados.”

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