New Zealand military braces for climate change battle
Wellington, Dec 6, 2018 (AFP) - The New Zealand Defence Force identified
climate change as one of its biggest security challenges Thursday, warning
that responding to global warming will 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 major part in helping Pacific island nations
such as Vanuatu and Fiji following devastating cyclones blamed on man-made
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.
The NZDF report did not mention China directly but warned "some states
could look to use assistance in climate change disaster adaptation... as a way
to increase influence".
It said the NZDF's operations in the Pacific arising from climate change
could enhance New Zealand's reputation in the region.
"Working with Pacific island countries on climate change, including in the
security sphere, is an opportunity to learn lessons from each other while
further strengthening strategic partnerships," it said.