Tuvalu will be ‘uninhabitable before it goes under water’

The decision to host the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in a tiny nation “vulnerable” to minor sea level rises is a tell-tale sign climate change will dominate the agenda, Director of the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program Jonathan Pryke says.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern are among the Pacific leaders taking part in the forum in Tuvalu, a country of about 11,000 people north of Fiji in the South Pacific.

“The highest point of the country is four metres above sea level; when a king tide hits, you’re basically wading around in water,” Mr Pryke said.

“Before this country even goes under water, it is going to become uninhabitable because of a number of other factors: salination of the water table, so just running out of fresh water, the fact they won’t be able to grow anything in their soil and then also the ever-growing prevalence of natural disasters.

“It’s no surprise that climate change is going to be front-and-centre.

“What the Pacific leaders want is not more money thrown into the region to help mitigate climate change, it’s more domestic action in Australia to help reduce climate change in the first place.”

The Morrison Government announced earlier in the week a $500 million five-year plan to help Pacific nations invest in renewable energy and increase their resilience to climate change and natural disasters.

“Credit to Scott Morrison for showing up all the same,” Mr Pryke said.

“He knew he was going to be the bad guy in the room.”

Image: AP

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