3 Sep 2014

No climate change refugee status needed - Kiribati PM

4:04 pm on 3 September 2014

The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says he strongly rejects the notion of creating a new category of climate change or environmental refugees.

Mr Tong says his country is already experiencing devastating impacts of rising sea levels and predicts his country could become uninhabitable in 30 to 60 years.

But he says Kiribati has more than enough time to deal with the issue and relocate people.

He says the normal channels of migration are open.

"What our task should be is to ensure we provide our people with those requirements so they can migrate as people through the normal channels, not as refugees, so they can go there as skilled, people with dignity, and not as refugees - please."

The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong.

The world's first-ever climate change refugee claimant, a national of Kiribati, lost his asylum appeal in a New Zealand court last May on the ground that international refugee law does not recognise global warming and rising sea levels as a valid basis for asylum status.

Beach in Kiribati

Beach in Kiribati Photo: RNZI