Australian news, and some related international items

‘Bigger threat than China’: Defence leaders urge release of ‘scary’ climate report

“It’s a much bigger threat to our national security than a potential fight with China

“This is about transparency and keeping people informed.”

By Matthew Knott,, April 5, 2023

A group of leading defence figures is urging the Albanese government to release a secret report on the national security risks of climate change even though its contents may alarm Australians.

Former Defence Force chief Admiral Chris Barrie said climate change posed a bigger risk to Australia than China’s rapid military build-up, and it was crucial to inform the public about the security implications of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and increased natural disasters.

Potential impacts included famines caused by global warming, conflicts over access to scarce resources and the mass migration of people to Australia from vulnerable Asia-Pacific nations in the coming decades.

“We are worried about the possible collapse of societies because of starvation, a lack of fresh water and shortages of food supplies,” said Barrie, a member of the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group.

Barrie said he understood the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) had delivered a landmark report on external climate risks to the government in December but a declassified version had not been released to the public.

“I expect it might contain things that are a bit scary, but we’re adults and we are up for it,” he said. “This is about transparency and keeping people informed.”

As the government prepares to spend up to $368 billion on nuclear-powered submarines over the next three decades under the AUKUS pact, Barrie said: “I see climate change as an existential threat.

“It’s a much bigger threat to our national security than a potential fight with China or some other conflagration. Only a nuclear war could be more catastrophic.”

Labor went to last year’s federal election promising to deliver a strategic climate security threat assessment and put ONI director-general Andrew Shearer in charge of the project soon after taking government.

Barrie said famine helped trigger the 1917 Russian Revolution and the phenomenon could recur in other countries in coming decades as a result of global warming.

Australia’s large land mass and relatively small population would make it an attractive destination for people displaced by climate change, he said.

The retired navy officer, who led the Defence Force from 1998 to 2002, said Australians living on flood plains and in bushfire zones should also be informed about the domestic threats posed by climate change, which are believed to be examined in a separate report by the Office of National Intelligence.

Spokespeople for the Office of National Intelligence and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet declined to comment on whether a public version of the report, which is based on classified information, would be released.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group, which includes retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn and the Department of Defence’s former head of preparedness and mobilisation, Cheryl Durrant, said nations such as the United States and United Kingdom had released public versions of similar reports on the national security risks of climate change.

The federal government had also released declassified reports on threats such as cyberattacks and COVID-19 to help inform the public, they said.

US President Joe Biden’s director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has described climate change as an urgent national security threat, saying it was likely to increase global political instability in future decades.


April 6, 2023 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

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