kiribati
Kiribati is one of the lowest-lying islands in the world.Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

A man from Kiribati has lost an audacious bid to become the world's first 'climate refugee' after New Zealand's Supreme Court turned down his latest and final appeal.

Ioane Teitiota is from the tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati, the lowest-lying country in the world. He claims that if he is unable to stay in New Zealand and sent back to the small island, then he and his family face peril due to the rising sea.

The 38 year old moved to the Commonwealth country in 2007 with his wife after rising sea levels destroyed his crops and contaminated his water supply in the country, which is home to just 100,000 people over 33 islands.

He and his wife have had three children since their move but Teitiota's visa expired and he was subsequently caught in 2011, with a lengthy legal battle ensuing ever since.

The Kiwi Supreme Court acknowledged that the tiny island does face challenges in the face of climate change, but stated that Teitiota is not in serious harm, with the nation taking steps to address the problem.

The court said: "While Kiribati undoubtedly faces challenges, Mr Teitiota does not, if returned, face 'serious harm'.

"There is no evidence that the government of Kiribati is failing to take steps to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation, to the extent that it can."

Nonetheless, the court did say that "environmental degradation resulting from climate change or other natural disasters could never create a pathway into the Refugee Convention or protected person jurisdiction".

Researchers had predicted that Kiribati would be one of the most hurt nations because of climate change.