The Defence and Security Implications of Climate Change


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Professor Alan Dupont summarises the defence and security implications of climate change in a presentation for The Climate Institute's Boardroom Lunch Conversation on 21 October 2013.

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The Defence and Security Implications of Climate Change

  1. 1. The Defence & Security Implications of Climate Change Professor Alan Dupont
  2. 2. Chronology  UN debates political & security implications of Climate Change in 2007 for the first time  CIA and ONA do classified assessments  Pentagon and Australian Defence& NS studies  At centre of Europe’s foreign policy
  3. 3. 2009 Defence White Paper  Neighbourhood will be particularly affected.  Exacerbate existing precursors for conflict.  Could give rise to very old forms of confrontation and war, such as clashes between states over resources.  More frequent and severe natural disasters and weather – humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  4. 4. 2009 Defence White Paper “Uncertainty about the effects of climate change and the period of time over which potential impacts may develop makes it difficult to assess its strategic consequences.”  Strategic consequences will not be felt before 2030.
  5. 5. 2013 Defence White Paper Issue framed as a driver of resource insecurity. “Global energy, food and water resources are under pressure from population growth, rising affluence and climate change”
  6. 6. Why is Climate Change a Security Issue?  Necessitates judgements about political & strategic risk – a threat multiplier  Poses fundamental questions of human security, survival and stability of nation states  Central problem is the rate at which temperatures are rising – little time to adapt and mitigate
  7. 7. How Will Climate Change Affect Security?  Negative consequences for food, energy and water and hence economic and political stability  Increased frequency and devastation of natural disasters, generating more humanitarian disasters requiring international relief  Environmental refugees and population displacements
  8. 8. How Will Climate Change Affect Security?  Spread of infectious diseases  Will reduce the carrying capacity of developing countries in Australia’s neighbourhood  Impact will be magnified where other problems exist eg. terrorism, ethnic tensions, pandemics, civil war.
  9. 9. Climate Wild Cards  Low probability but high impact events  Wild Cards – rapid or abrupt climate change  Tipping Points  Reduction in aerosol masking; accelerated deforestation; rapid melting of the tundra ice or polar ice
  10. 10. Policy Recommendation  “Strategic planners ought to include worse case climate change scenarios in their contingency planning as they do for terrorism, infectious diseases and conventional military challenges to national security.” Alan Dupont (2006)
  11. 11. Climate Change and Defence  Climate Change will affect where, when, why and how the ADF operates  It will shape Defence’s operating environment  Asia Pacific particularly affected  Defence still has no climate change strategy
  12. 12. Operational & Personnel Implications  Greater numbers of stabilisation operations  Regional cooperation on Climate Change  More humanitarian and disaster relief ops including domestic  Greater demand for engineers, doctors, transport, intelligence
  13. 13. Operational & Personnel Implications  New design standards such as shelters for fighter aircraft, munitions storage, runways  Conforming to environmental regulations  Energy considerations. Defence accounts for 70% of total govt energy use  More stresses and demands on force structure
  14. 14. Conclusions Climate change increasingly factored into defence and security assessments. Australia lagging behind other DCs. Residual CC scepticism has stalled momentum towards more robust policy stances. Compounded by conservatism of Defence. Unclear how CC will be dealt with in a Coalition government.
  15. 15. END
  17. 17. SHRINKING GLACIERS 1900 (Source: Munich Society for Environmental Research) TODAY