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Howard government blind to climate security threat: Greens.

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Senator Christine Milne

Howard government blind to climate security threat: Greens

Senator Milne, 14th June 2006

The Howard government has failed to grasp the security implications posed by climate change, leaving Australia and the region exposed, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said today.

"While the Pentagon has long since recognised abrupt climate change as having dire national security implications for the United States, the Howard government is blind to similar implications in the Asia Pacific region," Senator Milne said in Canberra.

"Climate change is just not on the Howard government's radar.

"Rising sea levels and associated storm surges could lead to flooding highly populated regions and massive relocation as occurred after Hurricane Katrina in the US. Food and water shortages, and associated homelessness and displacement are a recipe for civil disorder in our region.

"The Howard government has already rejected the idea of recognising climate refugees - sending a hostile message to Pacific Island neighbours who face rising seas and the prospect of forced relocation and a loss of cultural identity.

"During Budget Estimates hearings neither the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade nor the minister at the table, Senator Helen Coonan, nor the Ambassador for the Environment, Ms Jan Adams, had any idea about the geopolitical implications of climate change in our region.

"Responding to my questions, the department said that, unlike the United States, it was not conducting any analysis or report on the national security implications of climate change in our region.

"Senator Coonan went so far as to say: 'I am not quite sure from what perspective you mean.'

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Howard government must take note of the report released today by Dr Alan Dupont from the Lowy Institute. The report highlights all of the climate-related security issues that The Greens have been warning about for a decade.

"Instead of throwing in a reference to climate change to try to legitimise a desire to be part of the nuclear club, the Prime Minister should try to understand the greatest security threat of this century."

The Greens will move a motion in Parliament this afternoon to establish a Senate inquiry into the best energy mix for Australia given the need to make deep greenhouse gas emission cuts.

Contact: Katrina Willis 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562