Defence Warns Of Climate Change Peril For Food, Energy And Peace

The Australian

The Defence ­Department has laid out what it sees as the national security consequences of human-induced ­climate change.
Man-made climate change could increase competition for food, resources and arable land, placing a greater burden on our defence forces who must respond to an ­increased risk of conflict.
In an official submission to a Senate inquiry, the Defence ­Department has laid out what it sees as the national security consequences of human-induced ­climate change, warning that dealing with the fallout from ­global warming could increase the burden on Australia’s military.
It paints an uncertain, yet bleak, picture: climate change intensifying natural disasters and the mass movement of people across the region. It features as a kind of wildcard that could tax the capabilities of soldiers and imperil Australia’s energy markets, upon which defence relies heavily.
Defence describes human-­induced climate change as a “threat multiplier’’ which will intersect with existing problems of population density, poor governance, poverty and ethnic rivalry for food, water and resources. It will also increase the frequency, and intensify the effects, of natural disasters, potentially obliging ­Defence to devote more of its resources to disaster relief among Australia’s neighbours.
“Many of the states in Australia’s region face some or all of these challenges, in addition to being vulnerable to climate change impacts such as temperature and sea level rise,’’ Defence says. “Unmitigated, climate change could exacerbate the potential for conflict and the consequence of any climate change-related threats could lead to an increase in the demand for a wide spectrum of Defence response.’’
It is “too early” to say precisely what resource pressures will be placed on Australia, but it warns “the current most likely forecast climate changes may require higher levels of commitment that may create concurrency pressure for Defence from as early as the middle of the next decade, or earlier if climate change related impacts on security threats accelerate”.
“Although the full range of impacts are not yet able to be determined, there is potential for climate change to exacerbate existing threats and future governments may increase demands on the ADF to impose new commitments. These impacts could include an ­increase in illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing or irregular maritime arrivals to Australia.”
Citing conflicts in Syria and Africa, Defence argues climate change could exacerbate ethnic or other social grievances in Australia’s region, fostering terrorism or cross-border conflict.
“Climate change may also contribute to greater irregular migration pressure in vulnerable counties to Australia’s north, potentially becoming a substantial security threat for Australia.”
Defence says climate change “will exacerbate storms of increasing severity that will continue to impact national electricity infrastructure”.
“A more secure power system will be resilient to the integration of new technologies and resistant to the threat of natural disasters and cyber security attacks.”
It says the transition from fossil fuels to renewables is likely to ­“redefine national energy supply chains’’ and warns reliable energy generation is essential for the ­military.
“As an end user of energy ­sources Defence must ensure that it retains undisrupted access to ­appropriate sources of energy.”
It argues its training facilities could become less usable “due to work health and safety factors such as extreme heat” and notes that rising sea levels could make some defence facilities more expensive to maintain or “unviable to operate’’.


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