Torres Strait climate change plea at COP27

Torres Strait Islanders fearful of becoming refugees as a result of rising sea levels are taking their plea for help to the world.

A group of Torres Strait Islanders are travelling to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt.

They will urge the global community to act on climate change in a bid to save their home from rising sea levels.

Extreme weather, tidal flooding and erosion are impacting homes and infrastructure on many of the 18 inhabited islands between Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea.

Water supplies, vegetation, ancestral burial grounds and lucrative fisheries have also been damaged or at risk, Paul Kabai from Saibai Island said.

"If the government stops the coal burning and the gas emissions, we will have a better future for our children," Mr Kabai told AAP.

"If they don't stop we'll be refugees. We'll have to move from our island.

"That's very sad, we don't want to do that. We need to be born here and be buried here."

Mr Kabai and Pabai Pabai from nearby Boigu Island will travel to the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh for the COP27 summit.

Mr Pabai is expected to tell delegates the ocean has already claimed hundreds of metres of his island home in the far north of the archipelago.

"The land went out about 300 metres from where it is today, now it's covered by the water," he said.

"I'm standing up for Boigu to show the world who we are and what we could lose.

"It's not just for us, it's for all communities across the world who are suffering and risk losing everything."

The pair will join Yessie Mosby from Masig Island.

"There is an ancient race of First Australians who are suffering against climate change when we haven't contributed anything, but yet we're on the frontline and getting battered," he said.

Mr Mosby said Masig Island had recently lost three metres of shoreline to erosion in six months, further exposing already damaged graves.

"No man on earth should be walking on the beach picking up their ancestors' remains," he said.

"They were buried inland and that is just how much has been taken away from our home."

Mr Mosby said the majority of the island's drinking water wells were contaminated with salt and trees were dying.

"It's ridiculous," he said.

"Living in fear is not a way of living."

Mr Mosby called for environmentally safe infrastructure to be built to hold back the sea and save his island for future generations.

He also called for the Australian government to reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels in a bid to limit global warming to 1.5C.

Mr Mosby has already taken part in two conference panel discussions about the cost of climate change on traditional cultures and communities.

The Torres Strait, also known as Zenadh Kes, has a population of about 6000 people spread across about 500 square kilometres of land and 44,000 square kilometres of ocean.

Islanders are traditionally seafaring hunter gathers and many remain reliant on the ocean for food and trade.

In September, the UN Human Rights Committee found the Australian government had violated its human rights obligations to Torres Strait Islanders by failing to act on climate change.

A second case is is before the courts, with a class action by Mr Kabai and Mr Pabai arguing the Commonwealth has a legal responsibility to protect Torres Strait Islanders and ensure they are not harmed by the climate crisis.

This AAP article was made possible by support from the Meta Australian News Fund and The Walkley Foundation.