A few weeks ago we told you about the drowning island of Tuvalu. The small island only rises 4.5 meters above sea level is already starting to feel the effects of climate change, and is asking larger nations, like Australia for help.
Tuvalu is looking for help in constructing sea walls around the cluster of islands to prevent them from sinking. Tuvalu is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2020, but this will only have a small impact on climate change considering the size of the country. Australia could also play a bigger role when it come to reaching agreement on global emissions reduction targets. Oxfam Australia has called on Australia – one of the biggest polluters in the world – and New Zealand to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by 95 percent by 2050. It also urged the two governments to contribute more money toward helping small island nations adapt to climate change.
Some villages in Tuvalu have already been abandoned. Aside from rising sea levels, Tuvalu also faces the danger of salt water is getting into the soil, making it difficult to grow crops. A report by Oxfam Australia warns that climate change could produce eight million refugees in the Pacific Islands, along with 75 million refugees in the Asia Pacific region in the next 40 years.
Other small, island countries are following Tuvalu’s lead in becoming carbon neutral. Fiji is taking steps to ‘climate-proof’ their villages. They are testing salt-resistant varieties of staple foods, planting mangroves and native grasses to halt coastal erosion, protecting fresh water wells from saltwater intrusion and relocating homes and community buildings away from vulnerable coastlines.