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Their ABC Fact Check confirms - Craig Kelly correct, Tuvalu growing, not sinking

So why do we suckers keep sending money over a BS story?

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The claim

Liberal MP and climate sceptic Craig Kelly made headlines in November when he was caught on tape mocking "lefties" for exaggerating the effects of climate change.

Speaking at a local party event, audio of which was leaked to the Guardian, Mr Kelly set out to debunk several justifications for climate change action, including the argument that Tuvalu, the Pacific island nation, was slipping beneath the sea.

"The science tells us that Tuvalu, which I often hear about, is actually growing not sinking," he told colleagues.

Is Tuvalu growing? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.

The verdict

Mr Kelly's claim checks out.

In the four decades to 2014, Tuvalu's total land area grew by 73 hectares, or 2.9 per cent.

The expert behind this research told Fact Check the nation's islands were continually adjusting, and that the new land was habitable.


It's a place often cited in discussions about climate change and rising seas, given its 101 low-lying islands.

Indeed, Mr Kelly wrote about this link in a lengthy Facebook post in February 2018:

"A tenet of faith for Climate Alarmism devotees and anti-coal zealots is the belief that Pacific Islands such as Tuvalu are sinking beneath the seas."

The Australian Government has itself announced initiatives worth $300 million to help its Pacific neighbours, among them Tuvalu, to combat the effects of climate change.

The source of the claim

Contacted by Fact Check, Mr Kelly stood by his recorded words and said the claim was based on research from the University of Auckland.

This peer-reviewed study used satellite imagery to measure Tuvalu's changing land area over four decades.

Between 1971 and 2014, it showed, the country grew by more than 73 hectares, or 2.9 per cent.

Each period of the study experienced net increases in land area, including the most recent decade.

Of Tuvalu's individual islands, 73 had increased in land area while 28 had decreased. Just one had eroded entirely.

Tuvalu's population is spread across nine of its largest islands, with about 50 per cent of its people living on Fogafale, in the Funafuti atoll.

These larger islands generally experienced the greatest increases in land size, while Tuvalu's smaller, uninhabited islands fared the worst.