Obama to warn rising sea levels could cost US$200b

 President Barack Obama will on Wednesday warn that a one-foot rise in sea levels could cost the United States as much as US$200 (S$267) billion, in a speech warning of the security risks of climate change. -- PHOTO: EPA 
 President Barack Obama will on Wednesday warn that a one-foot rise in sea levels could cost the United States as much as US$200 (S$267) billion, in a speech warning of the security risks of climate change. -- PHOTO: EPA 

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama will on Wednesday warn that a one-foot rise in sea levels could cost the United States as much as US$200 billion (S$267 billion), in a speech warning of the security risks of climate change.

In a commencement address to the United States Coast Guard Academy, Obama will warn that climate change presents the most serious risk to national security, a risk that is immediate and acute.

"You are part of the first generation of officers to begin your service in a world where the effects of climate change are so clearly upon us," he is expected to say.

"Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act-and we need to act now."

The White House believes that rising sea levels is chief among these risks.

"Climate change, especially rising seas, is a threat to our homeland security-our economy, infrastructure, and the safety and health of the American people." "It's estimated that a further increase in sea level of one foot - just one foot - by the end of this century could cost our nation $200 billion," Obama is expected to say.

The Pentagon is taking the matter so seriously that according to White house officials, it is assessing the vulnerability of more than 7,000 bases, installations and other facilities to climate change.

The military is also studying the impact of the National Guard being deployed to deal with the aftermath of extreme weather.

Obama has launched a high-profile push to raise awareness about the dangers facing the environment.

After a landmark bilateral deal last year that committed China to emissions cuts, the administration says it would like to see a binding global deal reached in Paris this December.