Tuvalu seeks legal ways to be a state if it is submerged by climate change

Tuvalu is seeking legal ways to maintain ownership of its maritime zones and recognition as a state, even if the Pacific island nation is completely submerged due to climate change, its foreign minister said Tuesday.

“In fact, we are imagining the worst case scenario where we are forced to relocate or our lands are submerged,” Minister Simon Kofe told Reuters in an interview.

“We are looking for legal avenues where we can retain our ownership of our maritime zones, retain our recognition as a state under international law. So those are steps we are taking, looking to the future,” he said.

Images of Kofe recording a speech at the United Nations COP26 climate summit standing knee-deep in the sea have been widely shared on social media in recent days, pleasing the small island nation that is pushing for action. aggressive to limit the impact of climate change.

“We did not think it would go viral as we saw in the last few days. We are very pleased with that and we hope it carries the message and emphasizes the challenges we face in Tuvalu right now,” Kofe said.

An image of Earth is projected at the COP26 summit site in Glasgow, Scotland, Great Britain, on November 1, 2021. (Credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)

Tuvalu is an island with a population of around 11,000 people and its highest point is only 4.5 m (15 ft) above sea level. Since 1993, sea levels have risen by about 0.5 cm (0.2 inches) per year, according to a 2011 Australian government report.

Kofe said he delivered the speech on video, scheduled to be broadcast at COP26 on Tuesday, in a place that used to be mainland, adding that Tuvalu was experiencing a lot of coastal erosion.

When asked what the people of Tuvalu think about rising sea levels, Kofe said that some of the older generations say they are happy to leave with the land, while others leave.

“The only thing that is clear is that the people have a very close bond with their land,” Kofe said.


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