5 Jul 2018

Anote Tong backs climate change documentary Anote's Ark despite Kiribati criticism

4:30 pm on 5 July 2018

The former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says he believes a documentary about the struggles the nation faces in regards to climate change conveys the right message, despite government criticism of the film.

No caption

Photo: OB Archives All rights reserved!

The government has said Anote's Ark did not follow ethical standards.

It said video footage was used misleadingly, it was offensive to claim that Kiribati will be sinking or drowning in 30 or 50 years and local people were not given an opportunity to share their stories.

Mr Tong is a long time change campaigner and has been heavily promoting the film.

He said the film took in a number of viewpoints but he said he was not sure if people in Kiribati were aware about the science of climate change.

"I had taken the decision that you cannot involve people who really don't know what they are talking about. We are hearing people making statements, even today, but really they've not read the background on the science.

"The real question is, is the science correct or is it not? And I think there has been overwhelming science coming forward to give us a warning that we should be very worried about what is happening."

Anote Tong said the current government should focus on solutions to climate change rather than debating politics around the issue.

The government also seemed to object to mention of strategic migration plans which could be implemented in a worst case scenario, he said.

Mr Tong said even if there was only a one percent chance that future generations were in danger then the government must act.

"I don't believe that we could ever get the resources necessary in order to build up all of the islands and so acknowledging that reality we have to also ponder the possibility that some of our people may have to relocate and if they are to relocate then the policy that I advocated that they must not relocate as climate refugees but as people who would migrate with dignity."

Anote Tong says he personally is careful about what he says and has never suggested that Kiribati will "drown" underwater in years to come.

He said sometimes the media extrapolates what he says.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs