Kiwi mil­i­tary braces for global warm­ing bat­tle

The Australian - - WORLD -

WELLING­TON: The New Zealand De­fence Force iden­ti­fied cli­mate change as one of its big­gest se­cu­rity chal­lenges yes­ter­day, warn­ing that re­spond­ing to global warm­ing would in­creas­ingly stretch its re­sources.

The NZDF said the im­pact of cli­mate change in the neigh­bour­ing Pa­cific is­lands promised to be so ex­treme that pro­vid­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance could limit its abil­ity to per­form its tra­di­tional de­fence roles.

“With the in­ten­si­fy­ing im­pacts of cli­mate change … New Zealand may be faced with con­cur­rent op­er­a­tional com­mit­ments, which could stretch re­sources and re­duce readi­ness for other re­quire­ments,” it said in a re­port ex­am­in­ing cli­mate’s im­pact on the mil­i­tary.

The NZDF has al­ready played a part in help­ing Pa­cific is­land na­tions such as Van­u­atu and Fiji fol­low­ing cy­clones blamed on man-made global warm­ing.

The re­port said prob­lems in the Pa­cific would only worsen, bring­ing the po­ten­tial for food and wa­ter short­ages, land dis­putes aris­ing from cli­mate mi­gra­tion and more vi­o­lent storm dis­as­ters.

“When the ef­fects of cli­mate change in­ter­sect with a com­plex ar­ray of en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial is­sues, they can be a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to both low-level and more vi­o­lent con­flict,” it said.

“The se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions of cli­mate change are fur­ther mag­ni­fied in ar­eas deal­ing with weak gover­nance or cor­rup­tion.”

Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter James Shaw said the mil­i­tary’s role was chang­ing.

“More and more, their bat­tles seem to be about fight­ing the af­ter­math of ex­treme weather events, which fewer and fewer peo­ple these days are try­ing to ar­gue are not part of the im­pact of cli­mate change,” he said.

New Zealand has lifted its pres­ence in the Pa­cific this year, partly in re­sponse to China’s grow­ing role in the re­gion, which Welling­ton sees as fall­ing within its sphere of in­flu­ence.

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