“Ill-prepared”: Former defence leaders sound alarm over climate security threat


An organisation of former defence and security leaders launched today has warned Australia is ‘ill-prepared’ for the threat that accelerating climate change poses to Australia’s security and has called for an urgent ‘Whole-of-Nation Climate and Security Risk Assessment’.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group includes current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and defence sector and security practitioners. Its leadership includes former Chief of the Defence Force Professor Admiral Chris Barrie (retd), former Deputy Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn AO (retd), former Defence Department Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation Adjunct Associate Professor Cheryl Durrant and former Australian Army Officer of 20 years Major Michael Thomas (retd).

The group says a Whole-of-Nation Climate and Security Risk Assessment is required for Australia to fully comprehend the scale, risk and impacts of climate change on Australia and our region, including on social cohesion, energy security and import and export markets. According to the group, the assessment should also outline a framework for how our nation can adequately respond to these threats.

The group aims to make climate an immediate security priority in Australia through raising public awareness on the security threat of climate change, undertaking strategic research, developing policy recommendations and working with government and department officials to secure action on climate-security threats.

Former Chief of the Defence Force Professor Admiral Chris Barrie (retd) stated, “As ex-Service members and experienced practitioners of national and international security who have witnessed up-close the devastation of war and crisis, we recognise that climate change is a fundamental threat to the security and prosperity of all Australians.

“Across our region, climate change is an existential threat to many Indo-Pacific countries that are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

“Yet Australia is ill-prepared for climate impacts, with climate-security risks not being fully assessed or understood in Australia.

“We are being left behind, with some of our closest allies already taking action. In the US, the Biden Administration has elevated climate change to a high-level national security issue, with significant stature within national security decision-making.”


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