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Tuvalu: 'Fate of My Country Rests in Your Hands'

Oneworld.net, news report, Jeffrey Allen Posted: Dec 14, 2009

COPENHAGEN, (OneWorld.net) - Tuvalu's lead negotiator, Ian Fry, made an impassioned plea to the U.S. Senate, U.S. President Barack Obama, and the entire UN climate conference Saturday, telling them that his country's very survival depends on the decisions they make in the next week.

Some 194 nations are meeting here to negotiate a treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing the climate to change in dangerous ways.

Many scientists have indicated that a 2-degree-Celsius increase in global temperatures could cause enough sea level rise to make Tuvalu uninhabitable. The entire population of the Pacific island nation lives below 7 feet above sea level.

Tuvalu joined with other small island nations on Friday to introduce a proposal that would commit the world's developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough -- and quickly enough -- to allow their islands to remain habitable.

Tuvalu and the small island states want the Copenhagen conference to produce two binding agreements: one would extend the Kyoto Protocol and make it stricter, the other would be known as the Copenhagen protocol and it would commit the United States to gradually reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Fry's speech on the floor of the conference reportedly brought many of the other nations' officials to tears. The full transcript follows.


The entire population of Tuvalu lives below two meters above sea level. The highest point above sea level in the entire nation of Tuvalu is only four meters.

Madam President, we are not naive to the circumstances and the political considerations that are before us. It appears that we are waiting for some senators in the U.S. Congress to conclude before we can consider this issue properly. It is an irony of the modern world that the fate of the world is being determined by some senators in the U.S. Congress.

We note that President Obama recently went to Norway to pick up a Nobel Prize -- rightly or wrongly. But we can suggest that for him to honor this Nobel Prize, he should address the greatest threat to humanity that we have before us, climate change, and the greatest threat to security, climate change. So I make a strong plea that we give proper consideration to a conclusion at this meeting that leads to two legally binding agreements.

Madam President, this is not just an issue of Tuvalu. Pacific island countries -- Kiribas, Marshall Islands, Maldives, Haiti, the Bahamas, Grenada -- Sao Tome in West Africa and all the LDCs: Bhutan, Laos, Mali, Uganda, Senegal, Timor-Leste -- and millions of other people around this world are affected enormously by climate change.

This is not just Tuvalu.

Over the last few days I've received calls from all over the world, offering faith and hope that we can come to a meaningful conclusion on this issue.

Madame President, this is not a ego trip for me. I have refused to undertake media interviews, because I don't think this is just an issue of an ego trip for me. I am just merely a humble and insignificant employee of the environment department of the government of Tuvalu. And as a humble servant of the government of Tuvalu, I have to make a strong plea to you that we consider this matter properly. I don't want to cause embarrassment to you or the government. But I want to have this issue considered properly.

I clearly want to have the leaders put before them an option for considering a legally binding agreement for them to sign on at this meeting. I make this as a strong and impassioned plea. We've had our proposal on the table for six months. Six months. It's not the last two days of this meeting. I woke this morning, and I was crying, and that's not easy for a grown man to admit. The fate of my country rests in your hands.

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