2 degrees are already too many


Here in Paris, at COP21, the UN climate conference, the big challenge is to reach an agreement for the global reduction of CO2 emissions. The goal: to contain the expected temperature increase from here to the end of the century within a maximum of 2 degrees (if nothing is done, scientists say in Paris, the thermometer would rise by 5 degrees).

But there are those who ask the international community even more. "If the temperature rises more than 1.5 ° C, the coral system is destined to die in the Tropics and, above all, our islands disappear due to the increase in sea level, " says Netatua Pelesikoti, director of the division on Sprep climate change (Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program). One of the most striking cases is that of the nine islands of Tuvalu, which are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (1000 km north of Fiji) and are practically just above sea level: the "highest" relief is at 4, 5 meters above sea level: here, since 1870, sea level has risen almost 30 centimeters.

Image Tuvalu: the main island, Funafuti, is no wider than 600 meters, whichever way you look at it. For some, this island will be the first land to disappear due to rising sea levels. | Anders Birch / Laif / Contrasto

According to a research just presented at COP21 by the United Nations University Institute for Envinronment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) on a representative sample of inhabitants of Tuvalu and Kiribati (other islands of the Pacific), 70% claim to have to emigrate in the coming years if weather conditions worsen. Too bad that only 25% of the population would have the money to do it. The others would be trapped in a hostile environment.

"This research shows, data in hand, what we already knew", comments Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu. "And that is that the Pacific islands are the ones that have to face the burden of climate change first, and do not have many choices to do so." Koko Warner, one of the experts at the UNU-EHS, adds a dose: "It is not an exclusive problem in this area of ​​the Pacific: it is a global issue. If people have to emigrate because of climate change, where do they go? For which countries will you pass and which will be the final destination? In short, all countries are somehow involved in the management of the problem ".

From the research of the UNU-EHS it emerges that between 2005 and 2015 15% of the population of Tuvalu has already emigrated and the projections say that, if we do not put a brake on climate change, in 2055 100% of the population should to go, because the islands would be partly submerged and the increase in temperature would make both agriculture - also due to the invasion of salt water in the fields - and fishing, for damage to the marine habitat, impossible.