With photography by Robin Hammond of Panos Pictures, this multimedia piece looks at the island nation of Tuvalu, as the Tuvaluan people become some of the first environmental refugees, a direct result of man-made climate change.
In December this year a treaty to replace the Kyoto protocol will be drawn up at the climate change conference in Copenhagen. At a preliminary summit in March, scientists presented new information that revised previous estimates of future sea level rise. The new figures suggest that by the end of the century the oceans could be one metre or more above their current levels. Coastal regions will be flooded and low-lying nations such as the tiny South Pacific country of Tuvalu could be submerged.
The impact of rising seas and the increase in extreme weather events can already be seen in Tuvalu. It is one of 22 Pacific island nations with 7 million inhabitants between them that contribute only 0.06% of global greenhouse gas emissions but are three times more vulnerable to climate change than countries in the North.
At the primary school in Funafuti, children are taught about climate change from the age of six. They are also learning what it means to emigrate, because this could be the last generation of children to grow up in Tuvalu. Its people are already in flight. More than 4,000 live in New Zealand, and the Tuvaluan government is planning the migration of the remaining 10,000.
This video won a award for ‘Communicating the Koyoto Protocol’, presented by International Environmental Communication Agency AICA.