Be Prepared: Climate Change, Security and Australia’s Defence Force

Climate Council: September 2015

Climate change needs to be incorporated into Australia’s military planning.  The military in the US and UK have already done this.  Extracts from the key findings of this report follow:

Finding 1: Climate change is a security threat: Climate change poses a significant and growing threat to human and societal well-being, threatening food, water, health and national security.

Food security:  The 2008 food crisis increased the number of undernourished people worldwide by 75 million. The cost of wheat increased by 127%, rice by 170% and maize by 300%. By increasing the frequency and severity of droughts in important food producing regions, climate change was a key factor in the crisis.

Water security:  Climate change will significantly affect the accessibility and availability of freshwater resources. rising sea-levels can result in saltwater intrusion of coastal acquifers, while rainfall patterns are changing worldwide.

Extreme weather: Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of many extreme weather events. These events affect individuals and societies through the displacement of people, damage to critical infrastructure, and damage to health and livelihoods.

Finding 2: Global military forces are labelling climate change a “threat multiplier”.

Extreme weather and water scarcity contributed to soaring food prices, which saw food riots erupt across Africa and the Middle East in 2008.  Rising food prices in 2011 have also been identified as one of the factors that destabilised the middle east, leading, for example, to the “Arab Spring”.

Finding 3: Climate change puts the Australian Defence Force under pressure

Finding 4: The UK and US militaries are rapidly preparing for climate change while Australia lags behind

Finding 5: Strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is critical for limiting the security implications of a changing climate.

Key Words: Defence OzPolitics
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