Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, did not mince words.
Speaking at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change C.O.P. 23 Summit in Bonn, Germany, Mr. Sopoaga told world leaders life and death for his people is in their hands. Tuvalu, an island with very strong connections to Samoa through the church, has a population of 10,000.
“We are here as the highest representatives of the people and government of Tuvalu,” Mr. Sopoaga said. “I have ministers, Members of Parliament and community leaders in C.O.P. 23 and our message is to seek the survival of Tuvalu and Small Island Developing States.
“Of course we carry with us the hopes of our people that out of this C.O.P.23, there will be a future for Tuvalu.
“That we together shall act now, with urgency and high ambitions. We must stop greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming.
“We must immediately shift the global economy to renewable energy mix. This is an enormous task mended for me as leader of Tuvalu and it keeps me awake every night.
“No national leader in the history of humanity has ever faced this question -will we survive or will we disappear under the sea if no actions are done urgently.
“Again I ask you all to think what it is like to be in my shoes,” he said.
Mr. Sopoaga appealed to members to pause for a moment and think.
“If we were face to face with the threat of the total disappearance of your nation, what would you do?
“I ask you to ask yourself, what you would do. This is a battle of immense proportion,” Mr. Sopoaga added.
He said the report was pointing at rising temperatures from 2.6 to 4.8 degrees.
Tuvalu is appreciative of the support received by the international community.
“We are appreciative to the Green Climate Fund and the U.N.D.P. for helping us to get the funding for our coastal protection. But this being the Island C.O.P., we must make decisions; the C.O.P. must make decisions for urgent work.”
Mr. Sopoaga stated the adaptation fund must serve the Paris Agreement.
“We must also work on the loss and damage so that it will remain and continue to be a permanent item on the C.O.P. agenda.
“We cannot take this as fallout as to what we agreed in Paris two years ago. “We must do our responsibility and walk the talk.
“Mr. President we are deeply in trouble, by the countries who are trying to block progress on loss and damage.
“This is beyond adaptation, when you have nothing to adapt to when your island country has totally disappeared into the sea,” said Mr. Sopoaga.
He also called on the leaders who deny the existence of climate change to pack their bags and return to their countries.
“The countries who believe in Climate Change are here to act, to save our people. And those who deny that responsibility must leave C.O.P.23 and go home.
“Let them be condemned for their ignorance. We are, we are at the right time of moral crisis,” he said.
“Climate change affects everyone Mr. President and people including indigenous women and the youths must be included in dialogue.
“We also believe that Taiwan and the Republic of China must be given full participation in the process of climate change.”
Mr. Sopoaga said the vision of the world they were striving for was a clean, renewable energy future for all.
“Let us stand tall and proud in Bonn and let us look into the eyes of our children and say yes, we have a real future for you; we have done our work as leaders.
“Let us paddle the canoe together, because if you don't want to join us, please leave the canoe and jump off the boat and face the consequences. Let us make 2017 the year we did not condemn our people to demise oblivion.
“Let us make C.O.P. 23 the year we saved Tuvalu and save the world.”