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Climate change Defence minister proposes pooling resources to cope with disasters

Firefighting aircraft

Parmelin proposed procuring a Canadair type of aircraft for fighting forest fires.

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s defence minister Guy Parmelin has floated the idea of sharing resources with other countries to respond to emergencies like fires and droughts. 

In an interview published in the NZZ am Sonntag paper on Sunday, Parmelin proposed the creation of a resource pool with other countries which could be commandeered during an emergency. He cited the example of Swiss helicopters helping fight fires in Portugal last year and suggested that such collaboration could be improved if a shared pool was established. 

Parmelin acknowledged that it would require a mechanism for sharing the costs. He said that he will discuss the idea with cantonal military directors. 

The army’s role has not changed despite the increased threat from climate change, he added. According to him, what has changed is an increase in requests for assistance due to drought, forest fires or landslides. The army had to step in recently to airlift water for cows on mountain pastures because of drought conditions. 

Parmelin said the army could use more helicopters for emergency situations like the landslides in the town of Bondo in eastern Switzerland last year. According to him, almost all of the army’s Super Puma helicopters were in action in the aftermath of the disaster. He also proposed procuring a Canadair type of aircraft for fighting forest fires, as the army did not have one.


swissinfo.ch/ac

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