Defence Minister addresses climate security at defence summit

Line of Defence Magazine - Winter 2022

Peeni Henare
Hon Peeni Henare meets with Hon Anthony Veke, Solomon Islands Minister of Police, National Security & Correctional Services at Shangri-La Dialogue 2022. Image: Twitter.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Defence Minister Peeni Henare identifies climate change as one of the greatest security challenges for New Zealand and the Indo-Pacific region.

Minister Henare joined a panel of Defence Ministers to discuss climate security at the 19th Annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on 11 June.

The Minister addressed the 2022 summit at a special session on “Climate Security and Green Defence”. He was joined on the stage by his counterpart from Maldives and representatives from Germany and the United Kingdom.

The annual Shangri-La Dialogue is the Asia-Pacific’s premier defence and security forum with about 45 countries and organisations represented.

“Defence leaders are meeting in the context of an increasing threat to international security – climate change,” said Mr Henare. “The climate crisis is an existential challenge for many Pacific states. Its effects are accelerating and are being felt early and deeply in the Pacific region.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised that militaries have an important role to play in addressing a broader range of security threats than we may have thought of in the past, and this includes climate change.

“Because the impacts of climate change will require more humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, stability operations and search and rescue missions it will be one of the greatest security challenges for our Defence Force and the Indo-Pacific region for decades to come.

“The Pacific is one of the Government’s top defence priorities announced last year and reflects the emphasis we place on investing in the security of our region.

“Major Government investments will ensure the Defence Force has the capacity and capability to undertake climate related assistance. For example, the new P-8As have been designed and purpose built to patrol maritime environments and monitor vessels on and below the surface.

“We also know that climate change is adversely impacting Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. As one of the few militaries that routinely operates in this area, the New Zealand Defence Force must be prepared to adapt its operational and capability requirements accordingly.

“I expect officials to continue the dialogue with their counterparts to support regional efforts to address climate change,” he said.

The New Zealand Defence Force is committed to reducing net zero emissions by the end of 2025 in line with the Carbon Neutral Government Programme. As part of this, the NZDF will progressively replace its commercial vehicle fleet with electric or hybrid vehicles, with a goal to be 50 percent electric or hybrid by 2030.