Tuvalu minister makes waves at GOP26 with address in ocean

Source: 1News

A Tuvalu government minister has gone viral for his COP26 address, telling the world "we are sinking" as he spoke to officials in the very ocean destroying his home.

Tuvalu's Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe spoke to the conference from his home nation which continues to bear the full consequences of global warming with rising sea levels that experts predict could erase the island within two generations.

"Climate change and sea level rise are deadly and existential threats to Tuvalu and low lying atoll countries. We are sinking, but so is everyone else," Kofe said.

"And no matter if we feel the impacts today like in Tuvalu, or in 100 years, we will all still feel the dire effects of this global crisis one day."

Kofe said the situation wasn't just about losing their homes though - it was about losing their identities.

"In Tuvalu our islands are sacred to us. They contain the manner of our people. They were the home of our ancestors.

"They are the home of our people today, and we want them to remain the home of our people into the future."

The stirring words were matched by a dramatic shot at the end of his address, zooming out to reveal Kofe had delivered his entire speech from in the same ocean that is slowly eroding his homeland.

Simon Kofe makes his address to GOP26.

Kofe told Breakfast on Thursday morning he was "pleased" to hear progress was being made at COP26 but actions mean more than words.

"The reality here as you've seen in the video is rising sea levels, a lot of erosion along the coast, we're seeing a lot of extreme weather and changes in weather patterns," he said.

"These are the challenges that we are facing in Tuvalu and we were hoping that the media could convey these messages to the people to show what we're dealing with on a day to day basis."

Kofe admitted while they continue to fight to reclaim land, there are also discussions taking place for the worst case scenario where an entire nation may need to be relocated within the next 50 to 100 years.

"Although we are advocating for larger nations to make stronger commitments against climate change, we are being proactive to prepare for the worst case," he said.

Included in that planning is a public offer of refuge from Fiji, although Kofe said even if that were to happen it wouldn't help the overall situation.

"It's a quick fix and defeats the advocacy that we're promoting at the moment," he said.

"Relocation is a last resort for us and the primary focus for us is to get bigger nations to cut back on their emissions."