Ocean

COP26: Tuvalu minister delivers speech in the ocean to raise awareness about rising sea levels

Tuvalu's Minister for Justice, Communication & Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe delivers a statement to COP26 while standing in the ocean in Funafuti, Tuvalu November 5, 2021

Kofe's decision to speak at COP26 while standing in the sea has been drawing attention to Tuvalu's struggle against rising sea levels. Image: Courtesy Tuvalu's Ministry of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs/Social Media via REUTERS

Colin Packham
Writer, Reuters
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  • Simon Kofe, Tuvalu's foreign minister, has given a speech to COP26 knee-deep in seawater.
  • The United Nations Development Programme classifies Tuvalu as “extremely vulnerable” to the effects of climate change.
  • Other Pacific Island leaders have demanded immediate climate action, pointing out that the very survival of their low-lying countries is at stake.

Tuvalu's foreign minister has given a speech to the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow standing knee-deep in seawater to show how his low-lying Pacific island nation is on the front line of climate change.

Images of Simon Kofe standing in a suit and tie at a lectern set up in the sea, with his trouser legs rolled up, have been shared widely on social media, drawing attention to Tuvalu's struggle against rising sea levels.

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"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 said of his video message to the conference.

The video was shot by public broadcaster TVBC at the far end of Fongafale, the main islet of the capital Funafuti, a government official said.

It is due to be shown at the climate summit and comes as regional leaders push for more aggressive action to limit the impact of climate change.

Many big polluters have vowed to intensify their carbon cuts over coming decades with some aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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But Pacific Island leaders have demanded immediate action, pointing out that the very survival of their low-lying countries is at stake.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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