Man from drowning Pacific Island of Kiribati denied climate refugee status

• September 7, 2012
Tarawa Village in Kirbati

Creative Commons: Brad Hinton, 2010

New Zealand immigration authorities have refused refugee status to a man who says the Pacific Island he has fled is sinking as a result of global warming.

His emotional application was refused because the Refugee Convention makes no reference to environmental problems.

The 36-year-old man, who cannot be named, is from Kiribati in the central Pacific.

With all but one of its hundreds of islands little more than five metres above sea-level, Kiribati sees itself as one of the world’s first victims of sea level rise linked to global warming.

Its President Anote Tong has suggested moving most of its 102,000 people to Fiji or even building oil platform type accommodation.

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Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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