First Minister hears stories of climate change devastation

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been told that climate change is putting entire populations of Pacific Ocean island nations at serious risk.

Delegates from the World Council of Churches said rising sea levels, increasingly severe drought and storms had questioned the very survival of people in the British Commonwealth of Tuvalu.

Ms Sturgeon attended a meeting, facilitated by the Church of Scotland, at the UN's Climate Conference in the German city of Bonn this morning.

Sturgeon climate
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon listens intently to concerns about climate change. Scottish Government.

She heard stories of hope and pain from people who fear their countrymen and women are more vulnerable to migration and displacement due to the impact of climate change.

Ms Sturgeon met with Frances Namoumou from the Pacific Conference of Churches in Fiji and Rev Tafue Lusama, General Secretary of the Congregational Church in Tuvalu.

Homeless

Ms Namoumou said churches were working with communities relocating from exposed coastal sites to safer locations inland.

The Pacific churches are calling for communities to be protected and supported in the move.

They say women and children, who suffer most in the face of climate change, must be involved in the planning relocation.

Mr Lusama told of the critical problems facing Tuvalu where rising sea levels, increasingly severe drought and storms are putting the future of the entire island populations at risk.

He said: “For us, this is a matter of survival.

“Losing our land to the sea means losing our identity as a people.

“We will become homeless looking for somewhere to take us in.

“It was good to meet Nicola Sturgeon.

“She listened carefully to what we said and we are encouraged by this.

“Our message to her is ‘don’t blink, we need your action to help us’.

St Kilda

Adrian Shaw, climate change officer at the Church of Scotland, accompanied the WCC delegation, which was led by Rev Henrik Grape, coordinator of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change.

“It was great for the First Minster to hear the stories of climate injustice from the islands of the Pacific,” said Mr Shaw.

“People in Scotland know the story of St Kilda and can appreciate the difficulties of island life.

“This helps us understand something of what the Pacific island communities are now facing .

“We echo the voices from the Pacific in calling for climate justice and a just transition for all peoples to a low carbon economy.”