03/10/2013 09:40 BST

Kiribati Island Family Pleads Asylum As Climate Change Threatens Their Home

It is a tropical island paradise, surrounded by barrier reefs creating picturesque lagoons, but a family is pleading to be allowed asylum in New Zealand, because climate change is destroying their island home.

Kiribati is one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth. The family, who have three children, left the island six years ago, seeking higher ground.

But immigration authorities have twice rejected his argument that rising sea levels make it too dangerous for him and his family to return to Kiribati.


Workers on Tarawa atoll, Kitibati

"There's no future for us when we go back to Kiribati, especially for my children. There's nothing us there," the 37-year-old argued, according to court transcripts published by the local media.

He goes on to describe menacing high tides that destroy crops, damage homes and spread disease.

Immigration judges said his predicament is no different to the island's other 100,000 residents, and that the family is not being persecuted.

Michael Kidd, the man’s lawyer, will argue the case before New Zealand’s High Court on October 16.

The country, formed of 32 low-lying coral islands, has been identified by climate scientists as highly vulnerable to the threat of rising seas.

With surrounding sea levels rising, Kiribati President Anote Tong has predicted his country will likely become uninhabitable in 30 to 60 years