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Australia’s Defence Chief: Climate Change a National Security Threat

General Angus CampbellBy Marc Kodack

A recent article published in The Telegraph summarizes the text of a prepared speech by Australia’s Defence Force Chief, General Angus Campbell, which was described as “signed off by all of Defence, including the Chief of the Defence Force, as their official views… on climate change as a national security threat.” The speech was given at an invitation-only event in Australia; thus, it is unclear if the text was presented only as written. In the speech, a reference is made to Australia sending more military personnel to assist with climate-related disasters, both domestic and international, than it had at any one time in Afghanistan to conduct military operations. The speech states that Australia is in “the most natural disaster-prone region in the world” and that “climate change is predicted to make disasters more extreme and more common.” It also warns that the Federal Government’s actions on climate change could “affect relationships with Pacific island nations, who have repeatedly called on Australia to do more to reduce carbon emissions.” In that context, it warns of China filling the gap in leadership left by Australian policy, stating: (more…)

Australian Defence Force Warns of Climate Crises

Australian Army Rescues Flooded Family

PHOTO: “Australian Army rescues flooded family” – The ADF has already identified climate change as a challenge to Australia’s future security. (RAAF/AAP: LAC Benjamin Evans)

According to a recent story in ABC News Australia, internal briefing notes from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 2018 show an Aussie military with significant concerns about how climate change will impact security in the region. From the article:

One document warns that climate change could “exacerbate the potential for conflict” and contribute to “state fragility and the undermining of economic development in our immediate region”.

The briefing notes also highlight the lack of a strategy for dealing with these security risks.

The Defence Force admits in the documents it “does not currently have an overarching strategy or policy to specifically address the risks posed by climate change beyond the 2016 Defence White Paper”.

Click here for more.

Report from Down Under: “Climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation”

Australia_Weather-map-WA-28FEB06Australia’s National Centre for Climate Restoration, also known as Breakthrough, released a sobering report late last month titled “Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach.” The policy paper, authored by David Spratt & Ian Dunlop, with a foreword by Admiral Chris Barrie, AC RAN (Retired), former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, explores a climate scenario thirty years in the future – a method of risk anticipation often utilized by militaries. The scenario exercise led to a striking conclusion:

Climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation.

(more…)

Home Front: New Australian Documentary on Climate and Security

Royal Australian Navy Base_Sydney Harbour_Home Front_2019

A still from Part One of “Home Front” (at 04:55), Breakthrough, the National Centre for Climate Restoration 2019

Breakthrough, an independent Australian think tank, today released Part One of its new climate and security documentary, Home Front. In it, interviewees from the military, business and humanitarian communities describe the myriad security threats driven by a changing climate, ranging from political instability and economic collapse, to sea level rise risks to Australia’s numerous military installations along its significant coastline. (more…)

The Strategist: Combating climate change in the Asia–Pacific: lessons from the Marshall Plan

USAsiaPacifcRebalanceImageIn light of President Obama’s visit to Asia this week, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist published an article yesterday by the Center for Climate and Security’s Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia titled “Combatting climate change in the Asia–Pacific: lessons from the Marshall Plan.” It is a shorter version of a piece published in our “U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change” report, which includes a foreword by former Commander of U.S. Pacific Command,  Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN (ret).

Australian Defence White Paper on Climate Security Risks

800px-US_Navy_Australian_100720-N-4044H-477_An_Australian_Royal_Navy_Sailor_throws_a_line_to_Sailors_aboard_the_Australian_Royal_Navy_amphibious_ship_(HMAS)_Labuan_(L128)

Australian Royal Navy (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison/Released)

The Australian Department of Defence just released its 2016 Defence White Paper, a strategic document detailing its priorities. The White Paper notes that: “…the Government is investing in Australia’s defence capabilities to strengthen Australia’s security in the more complex strategic environment Australia will face in the years ahead.” According to the White Paper, one factor contributing to this “more complex strategic environment” is climate change. Below are the passages within the document pertaining specifically to climate change. Not included below are the numerous passages related to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, but it is worth noting that these are important capabilities for addressing climate impacts, enhancing international engagement and managing strategic risks. The 2009 and 2013 Defence White Papers also included sections on climate change and resource scarcity. (more…)

Australian Defence Force: Aligning Climate Security Strategy with US & UK

Australian peacekeepers unload engineering equipment. Photo by, Australian Civil-Military Centre

Australian peacekeepers unload engineering equipment. Photo by, Australian Civil-Military Centre

The Australian Climate Council recently released a report: “Be Prepared: Climate Change, Security and Australia’s Defence Force.” The report provides a good overview of climate change risks to national security and adds a critical look at how the Australian Defence Force is (and is not) preparing for those risks, and how this compares to US and UK defense forces. The report draws from an international team of reviewers including CCS advisory board member Rear Admiral Dave Titley USN (Ret), as well as Professor Jon Barnett, Professor Alan Dupont, Captain Leo Goff, USN (ret.), Dr. Liz Hanna, and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti RN (ret.). (more…)