Climate change will be one of the greatest security challenges the New Zealand Defence Force will face, with a new report highlighting the need for enhanced environmental awareness.
Defence Minister Ron Mark and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released the Defence Assessment on security implications of climate change.
The assessment finds climate change will have adverse impacts on New Zealand and the Pacific.
"Disruptive weather patterns are causing an increased frequency and intensity of weather extremes such as cyclones, rainfall events, droughts, and flooding from sea level rise," Mr Mark said.
"The state of the Southern Ocean is changing, meaning our current vessels are getting close to the limits of being able to operate safely."
He said it showed there was a need to understand the implications of climate change "and what our Defence Force will face when it responds to these weather events".
Possible security impacts the assessment found were people losing their economic livelihoods, food and water scarcity, malnutrition, climate migration and health related crises.
"Defence will have to adapt to meet the challenges posed by this emerging threat to our security," Mr Mark said.
Mr Shaw said Pacific leaders believed climate change presented the greatest threat to 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."