Tuvalu, a Pacific island nation, says it will recreate its lands and culture on the cloud as rising sea levels threaten its very existence.
In a chilling address to the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe warned his country could only exist online if the world failed to act on climate change.
“As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation,” he said.
Kofe was speaking in a video that shows him standing in a digital version of the Teafualiku Islet, Tuvalu’s smallest one and the first to go if sea levels keep rising.
“Without a global conscience and a global commitment to our shared world, we may soon find the rest of the world joining us online as their lands disappear,” Kofe warned in his call for action.
Tuvalu, a nine-island nation of 12,000 people, says that children born in the country today will outlive their lands. Estimating the entire country could be gone in a matter of decades, it doesn’t see a way out other than to move online.
“Piece by piece, we’ll preserve our country, provide solace to our people, and remind our children and our grandchildren what our home once was,” Foreign Minister Kofe said.
He told Reuters he hoped creating a digital nation would allow Tuvalu to continue functioning as a state even if submerged and ensure the world recognizes it as such, including its maritime borders and resources within.
It is not the first time Tuvalu’s top diplomat has used unorthodox methods to get his country’s point across. He addressed last year’s climate summit in a pre-recorded video showing him knee-deep in the water.
Tuvalu says the world can still save it and the nations like it – if only it pulls together. So far, it has not.
The UN says there is still “no credible pathway” to prevent the global average temperature from rising more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels despite legally binding promises to do so by 196 countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement.
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