Tuvalu’s foreign minister has delivered a powerful speech about the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on the Pacific Islands, standing knee-deep in the sea.
Dressed in a suit and tie with his trousers rolled up to his knees, Simon Kofe addressed COP26, the United Nations’ climate change conference taking place in Glasgow, while standing in the ocean along the shores of Fongafale, the main islet of the capital Funafuti, on Tuesday Oct. 9.
Kofe said in his video message that climate change and rising sea levels are already posing an existential threat to Tuvalu and other low-lying islands.
“We are sinking, but so is everyone else,” he 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.”
He iterated Tuvalu’s calls for world leaders to secure global net zero by mid century, keep 1.5C within reach and urgently mobilize climate finance to address loss and damage.
“But we are also not going to wait for the world to get its act together, we are looking to the future and preparing now for the worst case scenario, where our lands disappear and our people must leave,” he said, adding that Tuvalu was “not just talking” but mobilizing collective action in the region and internationally.
“In Tuvalu we are living the realities of climate change and sea level rise as you stand watching me today at COP26,” he said. “We cannot wait for speeches when the sea is rising around us all the time.”
“Climate mobility must come to the forefront. We must take bold alternative action today to secure tomorrow,” he said.
His speech has been shared widely on social media.