The Australian Defence Force should consider the implications of climate change and develop strategies to ensure it can respond, according an Australian Strategic Policy Institute special report co-authored by the CEO of the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC, Dr Tony Press.
The report states that as the world becomes more networked, the impacts of climate change in one country or region will affect the prosperity and security of others.
Those impacts will often be second- or third-order consequences of changes in other countries. Some of the potential consequences of a changing climate include population displacement, resource wars and the further weakening of fragile states. It’s possible that dissatisfaction with government actions to mitigate climate change could contribute to domestic and regional instability.
The reports says that while the ADF will always need hard-edged war-fighting capabilities, but it will also need the capacity to assist those countries that are already feeling the stresses and where climate change will have its greatest impact.
“This isn’t about the military having a ‘green’ view of the world: it’s about the ADF being well placed to deal with the potential disruptive forces of climate change.”
The 2009 Defence White Paper dismissed climate change as an issue for future generations, judging that the strategic consequences wouldn’t be felt before 2030. “That’s no longer the case. The downstream implications of climate change are forcing Defence to become involved in mitigation and response tasks right now. Defence’s workload will increase, so we need a new approach,” the report says.
“The 2013 Defence White Paper should clearly articulate the implications of climate change for the ADF, which go beyond merely meeting government greenhouse gas emissions targets.”
The ASPI report, titled Heavy weather: Climate and the Australian Defence Force, was published on Monday. The other co-authors are the Deputy Director of ASPI, Dr Anthony Bergin, and former ASPI research analyst Eliza Garnsey.
Read the report here