Defence experts weigh in as Australia’s first Climate Security Summit begins

27.10.15 By

AUSTRALIA’s top defence and national security experts will gather in Canberra tomorrow for Australia’s first National Climate Security Summit.

Guests from Australia, the UK and the US will discuss the Australian Defence Force’s preparedness for tackling worsening extreme weather in the region, as well as considering the longer-term global implications of climate change in terms of conflict and migration.

The Summit, which is being hosted by the Climate Council, comes as Australian defence forces are expected to soon be called upon to provide assistance to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Papua New Guinea, where a devastating drought has caused widespread crop damage and water shortages.

Former ADF chief Chris Barrie, who is co-chairing the summit, said Australia’s defence forces were highly exposed to the security risks of climate change.

“The impacts of climate change, worsening extreme weather and sea-level rise, pose national security risks. As soon as this summer, the Australian Defence Force could face multiple demands for assistance in relation to climate-induced natural disasters both at home and abroad,” he said.

“The summit is an important opportunity for Australia’s leading national security minds to come together and discuss ways in which we can integrate worsening extreme weather, sea-level rise and other climate change-related risks into defence planning.

The Climate Council’s report Be Prepared: Climate Change, Security and Australia’s Defence Forces found Australia’s defence forces were already under pressure from increased need for humanitarian assistance in response to extreme weather events, many of which are being worsened by climate change..

More than half of the world’s natural disasters in 2014 took place in the Asia-Pacific.

The report found Australia was lagging behind its US and UK allies in preparing its defence forces for security risks posed by climate change.

Former ADF chief Chris Barrie, retired US Rear Admiral and climate security expert David Titley, former UK climate and energy security envoy Rear Admiral Neil Morissetti (ret.) and climate scientist Professor Will Steffen will address more than 300 participants on day one before 30 defence experts participate in a closed-door roundtable to discuss how Australia should respond to the security implications of a changing climate.

The summit will conclude with a press conference to discuss the recommendations of the roundtable.

The summit comes as 48 national security and foreign policy leaders including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and George Schultz and former Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta this week urged the highest levels of US government to take domestic and international action to fight climate change.

“Of course, the first line of military planning is taking action to prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place, which is why Australia must commit to cutting greenhouse gases much more rapidly and deeply if we are to limit the security risks of a changing climate.,” Climate Councillor and summit co-chair Will Steffen said.

The Climate Security Summit will run from October 28-29 and the press conference will be at 1pm on October 29 at Parliament House in the Senate Courtyard. The public panel is open to the media and is being held at the Australian Defence Force Academy from 10am on October 28.

To register for the public panel, go to http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/the-australian-climate-security-panel. Former ADF Chief Chris Barrie, Professor Will Steffen and Rear Admirals David Titley and Neil Morisetti are all available for interview.

The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organisation providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public.

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