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PRESIDENT TONG AND HIS DISAPPEARING ISLANDS

Anote Tong is the President of Kiribati, a country of some hundred thousand citizens, which is disappearing under the sea. Kiribati (pronounced keer-ree-bahss) is made up of thirty-two atolls and a raised coral island that straddle the equator in the middle of the Pacific, and reach barely six and a half feet above sea level.

The country’s marine territory surrounding the small islands, which total two hundred and sixty-six square miles, is the size of India. When the tide is high, the water closes in ominously on the shores. Tong can look out at the ocean, turn around, and see ocean on the other side.

Climate change / sea-level rise in Kiribati

Photograph by Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

Several years ago, as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change, the water rushed in, ripped apart a village, and drove its residents to higher ground. A few nights ago, on the island of Manhattan, Tong told me about the local church, which is all that’s left at the scene. “It’s sitting out there in the middle of the water, because there was a village around it, but it’s no longer,” he said. “And why it remains there is because I’ve asked the village to build a seawall so it doesn’t go, so it can bear testimony to what is happening.”

Tong, who is tanned, gray-haired, and mustachioed, wore a navy jacket, a plum tie, a pale pink shirt, and olive slacks. He spoke with the resignation of a spokesman for a lost cause. (Kiribati’s fate is settled; Tong gives it twenty years.)

Read the full article from the The New Yorker
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Abbott dodging the real issue with climate change – Tong

The impact of climate change on Kiribati, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands has already gone beyond the point of no return in the view of Kiribati’s president Anote Tong.

His dire prediction comes with Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, seeking a conservative alliance which wants to block moves to introduce carbon pricing on a global scale.

Both leades says efforts to control climate change can not be allowed to impact on economies and jobs.

President Tong says the Abbott-Harper strategy throws previous regional agreements to which Australia was a signatory into doubt, but as far as Kiribati is concerned, it doesn’t matter what Australia or any other country does now, it’s already too late.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Anote Tong, president, Kiribati

Read the full interview on Radio Australia
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He leads the country that could drown

President Anote Tong is in New York. In a Q and A with Fortune’s Mehboob Jeelani, Tong talks about Kiribati – the first country expected to lose all its land territory to climate change.

On the evening of June 5, two U.S. secret service agents patrolled the main lobby of American Museum of Natural History in New York. They were guarding Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati, a nation of 32 atolls that stands in the middle of the Pacific some 3,000 miles from New Zealand. A short man with a salt and pepper hair and gray mustache, President Tong was busy exchanging handshakes with the guests—

Surf on to Fortune website to read the full Q and A.
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Kiribati and US call for concerted global action to protect oceans

US Secretary of State John Kerry says protecting oceans and sea life from the effects of climate change is a “vital international security issue”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a global regime to protect the oceans, which he said were under threat from too much fishing, acidification from climate change and marine pollution.

Mr Kerry opened the two-day ‘Our Ocean’ conference at the State Department on Monday with a call for all nations to move beyond talks and studies to taking specific steps toward a global agreement to protect the oceans.

“We are not going to meet this challenge unless the community of nations comes together around a single comprehensive global ocean strategy,” he said.

Joining Mr Kerry was Kiribati President Anote Tong, who said the small Pacific nation would ban commercial fishing from its Phoenix Islands Protected Area by January 1.

Read the full article on Radio Australia
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Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World’s Largest Marine Parks

Kiribati announces “very significant” step at U.S. Our Ocean conference.

A tiny island nation that controls a vast area of the Pacific Ocean has announced it will ban all commercial fishing in a massive marine park that is the size of California.

Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati—a chain of islands about halfway between Hawaii and Fiji—announced Monday that commercial fishing will end in the country’s Phoenix Islands Protected Area on January 1, 2015.

“We will also close the area around the southern Line Islands to commercial fishing to allow the area to recover,” said Tong, who spoke at the Our Ocean conference hosted by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. The southern Line Islands also will be closed to fishing by the beginning of next year.

The Phoenix Islands and the southern Line Islands represent some of the most pristine coral reef archipelagos in the Pacific, says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who led the first underwater expedition to the five uninhabited southern Line Islands in 2009 as part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project.

Sala’s team of scientists found healthy coral reefs, abundant predator populations, and pristine lagoons carpeted with giant clams and shark nurseries.

Read more: National Geographic Daily News

US ocean reserve extension welcomed

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong has welcomed U.S President Barack Obama’s announcement to put a broad swath of the central Pacific off limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities.

The United States, Palau, the Cook Islands, and the Bahamas unveiled their plans on Tuesday, following Kiribati’s announcement on Monday that commercial fishing would end in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area at the end of the year.

Under the US plan, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 225,000 square kilometres to more than 2 million square kilometres – all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States.

It will include waters up to 370 kilometres offshore from these US territories.

President Tong says the decision is great news for the Pacific.

Read full story on Radio New Zealand International
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President of Kiribati Anote Tong on climate change: “It’s too late for us” on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS

CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS features an interview with Anote Tong, President of Kiribati. Tong speaks with Fareed about how climate change is critically effecting the island nation, and what role America plays in the debate.

On the subject of America’s role in the climate change debate, Tong said to Fareed, “Let me make the point that whatever is agreed within the United States today, with China, it will not have a bearing on our future, because already, it’s too late for us.  And so we are that canary.  But hopefully, that experience will send a very strong message that we might be on the front line today, but others will be on the front line next – and the next and the next.”

Read more

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