15 Dec 2011

Climate change expected to wipe some French Polynesian islands off map

5:30 am on 15 December 2011

A conference this week in Tahiti says some of French Polynesia's islands will be wiped off the map due to global warming.

The effects of rising tides in the region are part of discussions involving politicians and scientists from France, the European Union and the Pacific Island region in Papeete.

Delegates have heard that French Polynesia's 270 thousand inhabitants spread over an area the size of Europe will be affected before the end of the century by higher sea levels.

It is estimated the level will rise by about 50 centimetres if global warning doesn't speed up.

Scientists say the Tuamotu archipelago which rises one to two metres above sea level could disappear.

The higher more populated islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea and Bora Bora would also be affected.

French Polynesia's Environment Minister Jacky Bryant says the territory is putting together a plan to be presented at the Earth Summit in Brazil next June, including the need to shift communities.