6 Dec 2018

Defence Force sets its sights on climate change

1:16 pm on 6 December 2018

The Defence Force is preparing itself to respond to climate-change-related events more frequently.

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Photo: RNZ

A just-released report identifies climate change as a significant security threat, and one that is already having adverse impacts both in New Zealand and the wider Pacific.

It finds that more humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and search and rescue missions will be needed, stretching the Defence Force's resources and potentially reducing readiness for other requirements.

Defence Minister Ron Mark said the assessment was a necessary first step that made it clear the Force would have to adapt to meet the challenges posed by the emerging threat to security.

"The assessment released today identifies the particular security impacts which may arise, including vulnerable populations losing their economic livelihoods, increased food and water scarcity, malnutrition, climate migration, health related crises, competition for resources, land disputes and the potential for increased violence from mismanaged adaptation or migration.

"We are now using this assessment to inform our review of the Defence Capability Plan, which I expect to release early next year."

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the report really hammered home why it was important New Zealand acted now to combat climate change in our region.

"If we don't, communities will suffer, and this government will not stand by doing nothing.

"At the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum, leaders affirmed that climate change presents the single greatest threat to the livelihood, security and wellbeing of Pacific people.

"Defence has stepped up and is thinking very seriously about how this will impact us here in New Zealand and our region as a whole, and how we will need to respond."

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