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Kerry: Panel to integrate climate threats into foreign policy plans

by Reuters
Tuesday, 10 November 2015 17:16 GMT

A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger stands next to a buffalo that died from the prolonged drought at Tsavo West national park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, Oct. 9, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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Panel could help USAID improve its capability to detect and prevent conflicts exacerbated by climate impacts

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Saying climate change's threat is not just to polar bears but to people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he is convening a task force to integrate climate and security analysis into broad foreign policy planning.

Kerry said the task force will consist of senior government officials and outside experts.

"If we can better identify the 'red flags' of risk around the world, we can better target our diplomacy and development assistance to enable those nations to become more resilient and more secure - and less likely to devolve into full-fledged wars and humanitarian crises," Kerry said at Old Dominion University, according to prepared remarks.

The panel's work could help U.S. embassies plan for unexpected climate impacts around the world and help the U.S. Agency for International Development improve its capability to detect and prevent conflicts.

Climate change did not lead to the rise of the violent group Boko Haram in Nigeria, Kerry said. But the severe drought the country suffered and the government's inability to cope with it helped create volatility that the militants exploited to kill teachers and kidnap school girls, he said.

Kerry was speaking not far from the Norfolk Naval Station, the world's biggest naval base, located in Hampton Roads, an area threatened by a rise in sea levels linked to global warming.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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