Tuvalu minister films climate speech standing knee-deep in seawater

Published November 10, 2021
Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe standing thigh-deep in seawater off the coast of Tuvalu as he addresses the Climate Change Conference. — AFP
Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe standing thigh-deep in seawater off the coast of Tuvalu as he addresses the Climate Change Conference. — AFP

GLASGOW: Tuvalu’s foreign minister has filmed a video address to be shown at a UN climate summit on Tuesday standing thigh deep in seawater and pleading for help as his country slips beneath rising oceans.

In the video, Simon Kofe tells delegates that “climate change and sea-level rise are deadly and existential risks for Tuvalu and low-lying atoll nations”. “We are sinking, but so is everyone else,” he said.

“And no matter if we feel the effects today, like Tuvalu, or in a hundred years we will all still feel the dire effects of this global crisis.” The film begins with a close-up Kofe standing at a lectern, wearing a suit and tie, in front of a blue screen with Tuvalu and UN flags.

“We are demanding that global net-zero be secured by mid-century, that 1.5 degrees be kept within reach, that urgently needed climate finance be mobilised to address loss and damage,” he pleaded.

“We are looking for the world to get its act together.” The camera then pulls out to reveal Kofe standing up to his thighs in the water off Tuvalu’s coast.

Delegates are gathered at the COP26 summit in Glasgow to try and implement the goals of Paris Agreement of limiting global heating to “well below” two degrees Celsius and to a safer 1.5C cap if possible. Host Britain says it wants the conference, which runs until the weekend, to “keep 1.5C alive”.

Based on latest national emissions cutting plans, Earth is set to warm by 2.7C this century, according to the UN.

Kofe said his nation of 12,000 people was “preparing now for the worst case scenario, where our lands disappear and our people must leave”.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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