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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 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…)
The annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the “principal forum for bilateral consultations between Australian and the United States,” took place this week in Sydney, and discussion of the security implications of climate change was on the agenda. The consultations included the Australian Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence, the US Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior officials from the countries’ respective diplomatic and defense establishments. According to the Australian government’s website, “The Consultations provide a major opportunity to discuss and share perspectives and approaches on major global and regional political issues, and to deepen bilateral foreign security and defence cooperation.” In this context, discussion of climate -security is important. (more…)
The Center for Climate and Security’s Co-Director, Francesco Femia was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s planned visit to the United States later this week. Prime Minister Abbott has apparently canceled meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and there is some speculation that this might have occurred as a result of President Obama’s recent climate change policy announcement, and push to have climate change put back on the G20 agenda (Australia will be hosting the G20 Summit later this year). To date, Prime Minister Abbott has been hesitant to engage on the subject of climate change. Despite the politics of the issue, however, the Australian Defence Force has been taking climate change seriously for some time. (more…)
On the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments in Jakarta, Indonesia on the security implications of climate change, Australia’s Chief of Army noted that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will need to plan for the security implications of a changing climate. According to Australia Network News, Lieutenant General David Morrison stated: “We have to look at the region, with a number of low-lying islands, to be confident in drawing conclusions that there will be a role for the military as a result.” In terms of what that might mean for the ADF, Lieutenant General Morrison noted that the “most likely role for the military” would be “providing immediate assistance for humanitarian and disaster relief.”
These comments build on previous concerns expressed by the ADF, including in a conference on climate change organized by the ADF in the autumn of last year, and Australia’s 2013 National Security Strategy – released under the previous government.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) ran an interesting article recently about a series of briefings in Canberra organized by Australia’s Department of Defence, aimed at assessing climate change risks and implications for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). According to a presenter, Professor Steffen, the Department of Defence “…wanted to get a handle on the idea of tipping elements in the climate system that could cause rapid change that would be very difficult for human societies to deal with…” (more…)