Natural resources, energy and environment
Kiribati's most important asset is the sea.
The vast waters offer some of the planet's last really
big fish stocks. At the same time, the sea poses a
serious threat: rising sea levels mean that most of the
country can become uninhabitable within a few decades.
Among the fish stocks are huge shoals of tuna, which
attract fishing vessels from other parts of the world.
The modern, effective fishing methods entail a risk of
the assets being plundered.
Major exports by Kiribati with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
At the UN Conference on Biodiversity in Brazil in
2006, Kiribati announced its intention to establish one
of the world's largest marine protection areas, in the
Phoenix Islands. An area of over 400,000 square
kilometers was allocated in 2008 and it was included in
2010 on the UN agency UNESCO World Heritage List. In
2015, all forms of commercial fishing in the protected
area were banned.
In 2016, the government banned shark fishing in
Kiribati waters. This created the world's second largest
shark protection area.
The Kiribatians themselves only fish on a small scale
and for their own livelihood (see Financial overview).
Other products from the sea, such as sea cucumber,
seagrass and salt, provide some income.
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Kiribati imports fuel, mainly in the form of diesel.
In 2013, fuel accounted for around a fifth of imports.
Almost half of the population has access to electricity.
Kiribati has invested in extracting electricity from
diesel-powered power plants, but also through domestic
solar energy and coconut oil. In particular, the use of
solar power has increased sharply during the 2010s.
Like the inhabitants of other Pacific island states,
the Kiribatians see with concern how the sea eats into
the land area and that smaller islands disappear. One of
the main reasons for rising sea levels is the global
warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions, mainly in
the industrial world. Local environmental degradation
contributes to the problems; Protective vegetation at
the beaches has been harvested and the reefs around the
islands have often been affected. It contributes to salt
penetration that threatens the already scarce resources
on fresh water. Some researchers believe that the lack
of fresh water threatens to drive the Kiribatians away
from their land even before it disappears under the sea.
Installations where seawater is desalinated with the
help of solar energy are used to increase the supply of
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
114 kg of oil equivalent (2007)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
62,000 tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
0.6 ton (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
4.3 percent (2015)