This report looks at climate change and conflict issues through the lens of sensible risk-management to draw new conclusions about the challenge faced in Australia. These climate change risks are either not understood or wilfully ignored across the public and private sectors, with very few exceptions, and include climate-driven humanitarian crises, forced migration, political instability and conflict. The Australian government must ensure Australian Defence Force and emergency services preparedness, mission and operational resilience, and capacity for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, across the full range of projected climate change scenarios.
Recommendations made include:
- Establish a top-level climate and conflict task-force in Australia to urgently examine the existential risks of climate change and develop risk-management techniques and policy-making methodologies appropriate to the challenge.
- Build international processes that specifically recognise and formulate the practical steps necessary for a coordinated, global climate emergency response based on a sound, existential risk-management approach.
- Launch an emergency-scale initiative to decarbonise the Australian economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while protecting food-growing capacity.
- Build more resilient communities in the most vulnerable nations by high-level financial commitments and development assistance; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hotspots of instability and conflict.
- Ensure all levels of government and civil society organisations are prepared for the impacts of projected climate change. Ensure Australian Defence Force preparedness, their mission and operational resilience, and their capacity for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, is adequate across the full range of projected climate change scenarios.
- Establish a national leadership group outside conventional politics, drawn from across society, charged with implementing the national climate emergency program.
The Asia–Pacific region, including Australia, is considered to be “Disaster Alley” where some of the worst impacts will be experienced. Building more resilient communities in the most vulnerable nations by high-level financial commitments and development assistance can help protect peoples in climate hotspots and zones of potential instability and conflict. The report posits that Australia’s political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders are abrogating their fiduciary responsibilities to safeguard the people and their future well-being, and contends that they are ill-prepared for the real risks of climate change at home and in the wider region.