Sinking Pacific island Kiribati considers moving to a man-made alternative

A A A

The future for Kiribati, one of the low-lying Pacific nations threatened by rising seas, is so dire that the government is contemplating relocating the entire population to man-made islands resembling giant oil rigs.

"We're considering everything... because we are running out of options," the President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, said yesterday in Auckland, where he is attending the Pacific Islands Forum. He said that his small, impoverished country – where the highest land is no more than two metres above sea level – urgently needed the world to take action on climate change.

Vulnerable Pacific nations have acquired a powerful new ally, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who visited Kiribati on his way to the Auckland conference. In a speech on Tuesday, Mr Ban warned: "For those who believe climate change is about some distant future, I invite them to Kiribati. Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet – quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere." Beachside villages in Kiribati – which consists of 33 coral atolls sprinkled across two million square miles of ocean – have already had to move to escape the encroaching waves. Water supplies have been contaminated by salt water, and crops destroyed. Erosion, caused partly by storms and flooding, is increasingly serious.

Mr Tong said he had seen models of a man-made floating island, similar to an offshore oil platform and costing US$2bn (£1.25bn). While it sounded "like something from science fiction", he said radical ideas had to be considered. "If you're faced with the option of being submerged with your family, what would you do?" he asked. "Would you jump on the rig... on a floating island or not? I think the answer is yes."

Other ideas included building a series of sea walls, at a cost of nearly $1bn. But Mr Tong said it would be up to the international community to fund such projects, and he complained that Kiribati had received little financial aid despite pledges from wealthier nations.

A former British colony called the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati is home to 103,000 people, most of them crammed into the main atoll, Tarawa, a horseshoe-shaped chain of islets surrounding a central lagoon. Like other pancake-flat Pacific nations such as Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands, and Indian Ocean nations such as the Maldives, it faces oblivion as a result of global warming-induced rising sea levels.

Mr Tong said that for i-Kiribati, as his countrymen are known, it was no longer a case of adapting to a changing environment, but of survival. He said Kiribati desperately needed the world to act to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Ban said his visit to Kiribati had strengthened his view that "something is seriously wrong with our current model of economic development". He said: "We will not succeed in reducing emissions without sustainable energy solutions."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention