Kiribati Climate Plan: More Resorts, More Tourists

Anote Tong, President of Kiribati

Anote Tong, President of Kiribati. By Sam Beebe –, CC BY 2.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The President of Kiribati doesn’t want his people to be seen as climate charity cases – instead he wants investment, new tourist resorts to give his people jobs and economic opportunities, to help pay for reclaiming land from the sea like Singapore.

As climate change threatens islands, Kiribati’s president plans development

The low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati is one of the parts of the world most threatened by climate change and rising sea levels. Scientists say the islands could be uninhabitable within decades, and in recent years, some leaders there have begun planning for a worst-case scenario that could involve relocating the population to other countries.

However, in a video presentation to the international climate conference in Bonn, Germany, last week, the president of Kiribati appeared to be turning away from such a plan.

“Climate change is indeed a serious problem,” President H.E Taneti Maamau said in the video.”But we don’t believe that Kiribati will sink like the Titanic ship. Our country, our beautiful lands, are created by the hands of God.”

Later in the video, far from discussing abandoning the islands, a narrator instead proclaims the goal of promoting tourism by attracting foreign investors to develop “5-star eco-friendly resorts that would promote world-class diving, fishing and surfing experiences” on currently uninhabited islands.

Government officials say they are working on a plan to raise the level of a large area of currently uninhabitable land to make it habitable.

Read more:

I can’t find a link to the video – please post in comments if you find it.

I’m really starting to like President Anote Tong. He plays the game to an extent, happy to host and be seen with globe trotting eco-celebrities, but he has a charming habit of going off script when it comes to climate change.

Anote Tong simply refuses liberal attempts to herd his people onto their allotted lefty intellectual reservation, to play the part of victims of Western greed helplessly waiting for the West to decide their fate.

Anote Tong’s response when asked why Kiribati residents weren’t flocking to New Zealand, why New Zealand was struggling to fill a 75 position annual citizenship lottery;

But there hasn’t been a dramatic exodus just yet. The New Zealand immigration department sets aside 75 places a year in a lottery for migrants from Kiribati, and at the moment it can’t fill them.

President Anote Tong suggests that is because things aren’t desperate enough yet.

It’s not a critical issue yet. I think if there are people who migrate now, I hope they would do it out of choice. But as to the question, is it so critical that people would be regarded as refugees? My answer would be no, not at this point in time.”

Read more:

I have no idea what kind of leader Anote Tong is at home, but at least in terms of his appearance on the world stage, my impression is Kiribati could have done a lot worse.

Correction (EW) – h/t Bruce Cobb – Anote Tong was voted out in 2016, so this latest climate plan is an initiative of the current President Taneti Mamau. Fixed a typo in the title (h/t Oldseadog)

96 thoughts on “Kiribati Climate Plan: More Resorts, More Tourists

      • “here’s your room key and a complimentary snorkel for sleeping (in the event the sea level rises too much by morning), please enjoy your stay with us…”

    • I would give him credit for being more honest about the state of his nation, and for proposing productive answers to his people’s needs rather than victimhood.

    • There was a documentary in recent years showing that any earth moving projects on Tarawa revealed buried unpleasantries and that garbage dumps covered all manner of gravesites.
      When every inch of their island was covered in bloody hell combat, there isn’t much else they can do.

      On the other hand, mimicking Chinese (and others) efforts to slow the entire planet’s land rush to the sea, can’t be all bad, if they can muster the economic muscle to pay for it.

  1. The good Anote Kiribati would have made a 180 degree turn then, over the last year.
    Eric Worrall, you could be right, because there are lots of videos from the president until after the Paris COP and none I can find thereafter.

  2. I assume he knows the tide gauge measurements and therefore there is no reason to be alarmed. The other leaders of the Pacific Islands are groaning for having a lot of $$$ when, I think, they should know that the terrible rise of the Pacific is a utopia … and therefore they are particularly hypocritical …

  3. Taking out water from a structure is fatal for the level.
    Sea Level has been blamed but it is often fresh water capturing that is the cause.

  4. Let me get this right, they tell us –
    CO2 from aircraft brings catastrophic climate change that floods islands, so the islanders want to encourage more tourists (& aircraft)…that will bring even more catastrophic climate change, that floods islands.
    Why do they want to flood their islands, are they now to lazy to go out in fishing boats & want the fish to come to them ???

    • It’s eco friendly tourism you have to swim. They take a deposit if you don’t get there to bad. It’s a sound eco friendly business model.

      • Sorry to be a pedant, but why is it that hardly any blogger can tell the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’ anymore?
        I find it most annoying
        End of rant.

      • Well first that is an extra letter and I am being Green and saving the planet 1 letter at a time using less electricity. Griff would be proud of me.

        Second English isn’t my first language and I do that and put “you” instead of “your”. Now if I would like to suggest some changes to the English language which would help but nobody ever listens.

  5. The media and the U.N. may want to cherry pick the one location on the planet which they believe to be experiencing the higher degree of relative SLR.
    If we were as unscrupulous as alarmists, then we could continually point to locations where sea level is dropping due to uplift.
    But, the real question should surely be, is there a net loss of coastal land overall.
    And the answer to that question is – no.
    Not only that BUT – “scientists who mapped where land and water have shifted were surprised to find that Earth has gained more land than it has lost since 1985.”
    So, apocalypse cancelled, once again.
    Now, who is going to start a campaign to “save the sea”. The seas which are being inundated and engulfed and overwhelmed (etc) by the unstoppable expansion of coastal land.

  6. I will start believing those sinking-feeling stories when they stop building runways to bring in visitors with those nasty airplanes.

  7. Like nearly all these island cases, Kirabati has a growing population.
    More people more real pollution more stress on the local environment.
    2017 Kirabati population 116,398, with a growth of 1.76%, up from 2000 figures of 84,406 and a growth of 1.66%.
    In 1965 the population was 46,453 and a growth rate of 2.41%.

    Remind me, why does the rest of the world have to pay for people to inhabit a tropical island paradise?

    • Oops that’s Kiribati,
      Not as I cut and pasted from the web page address of ‘kirabati-climate-plan-more-resorts-more-tourists’.

    • AndyG55

      And just to tug at your heartstrings, a picture of a cute animal and a child.

      Probably better with a picture of a Tiger snake on a porch to really scare the gullible.

    • A heat wave with six consecutive days above 25°C, or 77°F, for those of us in ‘murica. How can they stand it?

      • Even if he ‘2’ is a typo and meant to be a ‘3’, that is only 95°F.
        That’s a little on the warm side, but not going to stop ordinary activities.
        Some workers, say roofers, might start early and knock off after lunch.
        Common enough. Time for a cold beer.

      • Remember once being on a motor bike on the tarmac road when temperature was 44ºC.

        That was kinda toasty on the face!

  8. Invasion of Betio island, Tarawa atoll, Nov 20-23, 1943
    If they want tourism they have to figure out what to do about their trash. The beaches of Betio Island where the 2nd Marine division stormed ashore November 1943 are covered in trash.

    That island has to be a prime candidate for the most concentrated fury of any battlefield during WW II. Casualties for both sides higher than Iwo Jima as measured in casualties per square yard of ground.

    That event was also where the American public during WW II learned just how terrible war was going to be. Footage showing masses of dead Marines on the beaches of Betio accidently made it through the sensors to newsreels shown in theaters all over the US. They were the first American war dead shown where they died (Or where their bodies had washed ashore) in the US press since Pearl Harbor. FDR was furious but Admirals King and Nimitz convinced the POTUS that the American public had a right to know just how tough the advance on Japan would be because there were a lot more coming. Thus later, when a short documentary film titled ‘With the Marines at Tarawa’ was produced, FDR approved it’s release and it won an Academy award.

    Allied planners would typically plan to land their troops during a rising tide because landing craft beaching during an ebb tide were more likely not to be able to retract. The problem was that the tides did not occur as projected. the reefs prevented passage of the landing craft except for a very few points (Which the defenders had zeroed in). There were not nearly enough “Alligators” (LVTs- Landing Vehicles, Tracked) available yet so conventional landing craft carried the bulk of the troops. Thus most of the Marines of the first waves had to wade distances up to 1/4 of a mile while under heavy fire just to get to the beach. This reconnaissance failure resulted in the formation of the UDTs (Underwater Demolition Teams) which were the forerunners of the USN SEAL teams.

    Rear Admiral Keiji Shibazaki, commander of the defenders had boasted that “it would take one million men one hundred years” to take the island. US forces secured the island in 76 hours.

    Defenses Betio

    Only 17 Japanese combat troops (Almost all taken wounded or incapacitated by shell shock) were captured. 129 Korean construction workers (Which the Japanese called “flies”) were also taken alive. Actor Eddie Albert, a Navy Lt. serving as a salvage specialist, captured a Japanese Imperial Naval Landing Force Officer that was delusional.

    • Great write up. I read in almost all of my history books that a neap tide occured at the time of the landing. The Marines (General Howlin’ Mad Smith) did not know about neap tides, and the Navy failed to tell him about them. A real FUBAR.

      • Taking Tarawa started the central pacific route of advance and put a capstone on the isolation of 10s of 1,000s of Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Britain (Rabaul). It was worth it.

  9. If people believe a new resort is about to sink into the sea, it might make the experience even more rare and valuable. Extreme tourism is expensive.

  10. It’s great to see countries taking a page out of the Trump book of the “Action on Climate” of Drill Baby Drill, Dig Baby Dig, and It’s the Economy, Stupid. Next year’s Climate confab will even be in Katowice, Poland – smack in the middle of coal country. I suppose some may still be holding out for the promised much-ballyhooed $100bn/year Climate Cash, but I’m guessing they are beginning to see the writing on the wall: it’s not coming, despite all the blather about it previously.

  11. Surely Tong is shooting himself in the foot here though. He’s badly failing to stick with the green blob’s climate victim playbook and they will drop him like a poisonous coconut. Suggesting that the way to go is to invest in extensive new building projects on an island about to disappear beneath the accelerating sea is very obviously sending the wrong message. Media and funding attention will pass over these islands like a squall and seek for more compliant ‘victims’ on other Pacific island chains.

    • Yes, the information on Kiribati seems to indicate those who live there want to move to a modern society, not backward to more grass huts and outhouses. They are obviously not understanding how this “save us from climate change” mantra actually works.

      • Indeed, their concerns are purely economic. If allowing themselves to be climate poster boys gets some free US EU tax payer cash from the UN, then so be it

    • I have noticed a lot of car commercials show the car zipping around in snowy conditions. Isn’t this going to trigger the faithful climate drones into safe spaces instead of the dealership? Shame on these advertisers.

  12. The Chinese have shown that they can build islands that did not exist before, so raising an existing island to keep it above sea level should be trivial.

    Dredging the sea bed for materials is a poor way of creating farm land, because of the salt, but it is fine for building hotels. Waste created by the tourists could also be used as land fill.

    • it clearly says global warming, not man made global warming

      How long does it take 1.5mm\y to rise three meters 😀 The Dutch dealt with it, even in my hometown Dublin Ireland, we took back slices of land from the sea.

      Kiribati needs to 1, raise coast ground level and 2 install concrete erosion barriers, we did this in Ireland ffs.
      If they can just be honest and say erosion and slow creeping natural sea level rise is gonna hurt us, yeah sure, I’d donate myself, this climate crap is laughable and deserves no pity

  13. It’s hilarious how “climate change” is the reason intoned for doing something you should, or planned to do anyway.

  14. It should be corrected that Anote Tong is no longer President of Kiribati, however we should be thankful for his entire efforts. The currrent President is Taneti Maamau who came up with his vision for the next twenty years called Kiribati Vision 20 to transform Kiribati into a more resilient, secured and prosperous nation.

  15. As usual climate change is coupled to rising sea level.
    “Kiribati is one of the parts of the world most threatened by climate change and rising sea levels”
    Rising sea level is not caused by climate change, or it is anyway not visible in any measure of sea level.
    Placed in the Pacific ocean they will not feel any measurable temperature change.

    • To be fair, they are just staying on script. They don’t want to risk a visit by the dreaded Climate Inquisition.

  16. Kiribati has been in focus several times. Sea is not at all in a rising mode as evidenced by the tide gauges.
    In 2012, I had reasons to reply here:
    Let me cite:
    With respect to the article on March 7 by Paul Chapman on the future of Kiribati, I have to protest and urge all readers to consult the only “hard facts” there are, viz. the tide gauge record of the changes in sea level.
    The graph reveals that there, in fact, is no ongoing sea level rise that threatens the habitation of the islands. This is the hard observational fact, which we should all face before starting to talk about future flooding and the need for evacuation.
    If the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, claims that the islands will soon be flooded and that there is an urgent need to buy new land for possible future refugees, it is the president’s own tactical idea in order to raise money from abroad. Let us respect the observational facts and stay away from invented disasters.
    best wishes
    Nils-Axel Mörner
    just now working in Fiji

  17. If they expect help from the un, those luxury hotels are required. Is the island too small for a Mercedes dealership?

  18. Prof Kench of Auckland U has also done much research. It corroborates that of Nils-Axel Morner above.

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