Statement from the co-chairs of the Australian Climate Security Summit

18.11.15 By

Thirty of Australia’s leading minds from Defence, academia, policy think tanks and other government bodies have joined together for discussions over the last two days for Australia’s first climate security summit.

The roundtable members wrestled with many issues of fundamental importance to Australia’s national security including the risks posed by climate change to geopolitical stability, the challenges faced by the Australian Defence Force in providing humanitarian assistance in response to more frequent and extreme severe weather events and how the ADF can best prepare for the considerable strategic risk and uncertainty posed by climate change.

Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent and severe extreme weather events are heightening the risk of conflict and increasing the displacement of people.

One of the primary areas of discussion was the steps that need to be taken to align Australia’s defence preparedness with allies such as the US and UK.

Summit co-chairs, former ADF chief Admiral Chris Barrie (Ret.) and the Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen, joined by key summit participants Rear Admiral David Titley (Ret.) and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (Ret.), issued the following co- chair statement:

1. The Australian Government should take immediate and significant steps to mainstream climate change into defence planning.
2. Climate change is exacerbating tensions in areas with existing global instability, increasing the risk of conflict and changing the nature of ADF missions.
3. The Australian Defence Force is already under pressure from climate change.
4. Limiting the security consequences of a changing climate requires strong action by countries like Australia.

The bottom line is clear and compelling: Climate change is far more than “just” an environmental issue; it fundamentally changes our relationship with food and water, which is essential for our well-being and for the viability of nearly all other forms of life. We have collectively built and optimized all of human civilization for the relatively stable climate that has existed for thousands of years, starting at the end of the last ice age. That climate is now changing rapidly.

As noted by Brigadier-General King (Ret), the Chief Academic Officer at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College “[Climate change] is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years….There is no exit-strategy.”

This statement is signed by the Australian Climate Security Summit co-chairs:

Professor Will Steffen

Admiral Chris Barrie (Ret.)

DOWNLOAD the Statement From The Climate Security Summit Co-Chairs