Pacific News Minute: Documentary “Anote’s Ark”: Climate Change Treaty Comes Too Late for Kiribati

May 29, 2018

Butaritari, Kiribati
Credit KevGuy4101 / Flickr

A new documentary about climate change and Kiribati screened at film festivals in New Zealand and Colorado this last weekend. We have more on “Anote’s Ark” from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

The Anote of the title is the now former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong. We see the president in suit and tie at the United Nations, in the Vatican (where he meets with Pope Francis) and at the Paris climate change conference – where Kiribati and other small islands states drove the agenda.

We also see him in a t-shirt and shorts, explaining to village elders why the climate change agreement came too late for the low lying atolls of Kiribati. Scientists project that rising seas will swallow the entire archipelago by the end of this century.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand in conjunction with the Documentary Edge Film Festival, Anote Tong said, “We can’t just wish for it not to happen.”

The documentary shows how President Tong explored alternatives including futuristic floating islands.

“If we cannot adapt,” he told Radio New Zealand, “we have no choice but to relocate.”

Former Kiribati President Anote Tong
Credit Takver / Flickr

“Anote’s Ark” also follows Tiemeri Tiare, who gets a visa to pick kiwifruit in New Zealand and eventually brings her family of six after her. They are not likely to be allowed to stay. Speaking from New Zealand with an audience at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado, director Matthieu Rytz said New Zealand does not grant climate migrants refugee status, for fear that the precedent would open doors to the entire Pacific. 

At the conclusion, “Anote’s Ark” notes that the new government in Kiribati has dismantled most of Anote Tong’s climate policies.