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Climate Crisis in Tuvalu

A Beach in Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a small island country in the South Pacific. It has a population of 11,200. In Australia, there are about 700 people who were either born in Tuvalu or who have Tuvaluan heritage.

Tuvalu is on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Some islands in Tuvalu have already been inundated. The threat is so serious that the Government of Tuvalu has initiated a project to replicate the country’s existence in the metaverse!

People living in Tuvalu face many problems caused by climate change. As one example, growing crops like bananas becomes much more difficult because the soil is becoming saltier.

In November last year,, the Governments of Tuvalu and Australia announced a new agreement called the Falefili Union. The terms of this agreement include a commitment from Australia to accept 280 Tuvaluans each year as migrants. In return, the Australian Government will have veto power over defence and security agreements that Tuvalu seeks to enter into with third countries.

Those who apply to come to Australia will be given indefinite permanent resident status with a right to apply for citizenship. The Australian Government will help these migrants to find work and will offer them access to Medicare. Efforts will also be made to assist the Tuvaluan community in Australia to preserve their culture. People will be permitted to bring their families with them. Those who have chronic health conditions and disabilities will also be accepted.

There will only be limited circumstances in which the defence provisions of the agreement will come into force. It will not apply to defence and security agreements between Tuvalu and other Pacific countries.

There are mixed feelings about the agreement in Tuvalu. Some worry about a possible brain drain to Australia. Others are concerned about limits being put on Tuvalu’s right to forge relationships with other countries such as China.

Tuvalu is but one example of a Pacific country which is facing a crisis because of climate change. Other Pacific countries, like Fiji and Vanuatu, are already implementing plans to move whole villages to higher ground because coastal villages are being inundated.

Pacific countries are active in urging urgent action to address the impact of climate change on them and the rest of the world. The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) recently issued an assessment of the commitment of G7 countries to climate action. PICAN is most concerned that major countries are not committed to an urgent phasing out of the use of fossil fuels. You can read PICAN’s statement at